Thursday, July 31, 2008

Accomplishment Addiction

Another outflow of the Sunday before last's Supermessage is that I've come to the conclusion that I've been in bondage to achievement. I'm a person who loves to cross things off her list. I'm almost at the point of making a list just so I can cross things off it. Sometimes in my journal at night, I list all the things I've donethat day, just so I can feel good. That doesn't seem right. That is, it doesn't seem that my motivation should spring from a desire to feel good just because I've gotten some things done today.

I've read tons of get organized and how to manage your time books and have come across statements such as, "It's accomplishment that really motivates... For a doer, one accomplishment just provides fuel for more." That was Don Aslett, in his book How to Accomplish 1000 Things at Once. He said, further, "Accomplishment is the sustaining reality. Once you build and produce, once youre work results in something that changes things, then it changes you, too, and feeds you like a tank of gas."

It's true, at least in that I think accomplishment is part of the pleasure God has put into life. We feel good when we get a bunch of things done. We take satisfaction in the work we have to do. But... we can also (I do, absolutely) feel bad when we don't get things done. When something happens and we don't get one thing on the list accomplished. or worse, when we just get sidetracked and distracted and end up not getting anything done, not because of someone else, but because of our own selves. Which I've always regarded as especially bad. You were a wastrel. A flake. A flibbitygibbit.

I've believed all this for years. Now I'm questioning it.

For one thing, I've become aware of the fact that I start each day with a plan in mind. I'm going to do A, B, C, D, and E in that order. Then I proceed. The whole time I'm doing A, I'm not concentrating on A, enjoying it, noticing the little pleasing details that are part of it -- no, I'm thinking about how fast I can get it done so I can go on to B. When I do B, I think about C. I'm always in a hurry, and should anything come up to interfere, well, that is a major distress factor. As I'm writing this I see so clearly how that method is all about my plan. My things. My order. Not about God's. When I didn't fulfill my plan, then I felt bad. I made myself feel bad. It wasn't God doing it. If I thought about God at all, I'd realize He saw me as accepted.

But somehow I couldn't get His eternal and overriding acceptance to link up with my temporal failure. I couldn't see that I was overriding God's acceptance with my own arrogant lack of acceptance.

There is now, no condemnation to those who are in Christ. God is perfectly pleased with me, as is. I don't have to do one thing to be "good." The things God has for me to do are for my blessing and benefit. It should be for pleasure and/or out of gratitude and desire to serve. Not the little stroke I get at the end of the day for having "accomplished" my plan. Not so I can feel good about myself because I've fulfilled "my" standards and "my" plans and that's what really counts. If God's said He's accepted us, period, how can I say, "That's fine. I know I'm acceptable to God but I'm not acceptable to myself." I'm actually saying I have to do a little more to please myself than I do to please God. And that's just nuts!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reflections on the Abundant Life, part 2

Now I get to return to my reflections on my pastor's message two Sunday's ago about the Abundant life. How, as a child of the King, I should be reigning in my life, enjoying the many, many things God has given me. ONe part of learning to enjoy my life is to lose my subjectivity about myself. Worrying about what I look like, what I sound like, if I did the right thing. Was I bad? Should I have not said that? What did they think? Were they upset? Do they think I'm a doofus now?

Phooey on all that! The truth is, no one really cares. Just be who you are and enjoy being who you are. I am very different from most people I encounter and this is a familiar struggle -- the thought is constantly creeping in that I should be like this person or that person. That how I am is not like others and so, by that measure, I must be bad. That's baloney. I am what I am by the grace of God! (I Co 15:10)

I should be myself, and enjoy myself, and not apologize for who I am. Just relax in it. Furthermore, my focus should not even be on myself (which is, of course, subjectivity!). I shouldn't be thinking about my performance or my growth or whatever. I need to evaluate myself for sin so I can rebound, but beyond that, forget it. My focus should be on Him. And on others.

Life is not about us. It's about us laying down our lives for the Lord Jesus Christ and for our friends.

We're to enjoy that life more abundantly. The yoke is easy. The burden is light. Life is filled with enjoyment (if we look for it and concentrate on that). It's fun. We get pleasure out of living.

The food we eat can be a constant small pleasure. Our homes, humble or great, are still our homes, and have many comforts. Solitude, family, friends. The sky, the grass, our pets. The word of God, the wonderful things God has done for us. Who we are in Him: Winners already, not because of us, but because of Him. With the potential to win even more -- crowns which we can cast at His feet in the eternal state.

We're supposed to enjoy the life God has given us. Even the unbeliever is told to enjoy the life which God has given him under the sun -- his wife, his job... Philippians says to concentrate on the positive honorable things.
The world wants us to concentrate on the negative. Yes, there may be worldly voices urging us to "think positive" but overall the things you hear from the world are negative. All the bad news on the news, all the things we have to watch out for, beware of, not eat, not do ...

If you concentrate on all the negativity -- what the nation's going through, what you're going through ((what's wrong with you, what's wrong with all the people in your periphery))you'll have a negative attitude rather than a positive outlook.

Live one day at a time and enjoy yourself. Realize this is the day that the Lord has made. Enjoy your loved ones, your money. Prosperity, the blessings God has given you: family, children, relatives, church, friends.

Life is Fun!

He paid the price so we could LIVE, not run around in gloom and doom, condemnnation and guilt.

There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. I don't have to do anything to please God. He is already completely pleased. So why say to myself that I'm bad and feel regrets that I didn't finish the tasks I'd hoped to finish today, and now I'll have to add them to tomorrow's routine and when will I have the time to work on the book, answer email, write a blog post? Stop! Deep breath...

There's always time to do the will of God. Getting all bothered about what I've not done, what I'll have to do is definitely not the will of God. I enjoyed what I did today, even if it didn't work out that I could finish. Oh well. It's one day at a time. I can't keep peering into the future and getting all weird about what I fear I'll have to do. God is there. He will handle it. I have only to enjoy today.


Monday, July 28, 2008

A Change in Plans

I had planned to post Reflections on the Abundant Life part 2, today, but instead, I'm going to talk about what happened today, which itself illustrates what seems to be the Concept of the Week... Month... Year? that God is drilling into my thinking. That concept is that my plans are not really all that important and can easily be demolished by all sorts of things outside my control. Thus it's better not to make too many plans or assume too much. It's likely things will turn out differently.

Today, for example. Today I went with my mother for her second chemotherapy treatment. The first time, as I mentioned, they told us it would take six hours and to bring our lunches, and things to do. Instead, it took only took two hours and we went back to her house to eat our lunches. That's because she had no reaction to the medication and everything went smoothly.

That experience under our belts, we assumed today (never assume!) that things would go likewise and didn't bring lunch. (Though I did bring two dark chocolate energy bars, of which I ate one; my mother held out for her potato salad, waiting at home.) This time she did have a reaction to one of the chemo drugs.

About five minutes after they started it (by intravenous infusion), she told me she was starting to have trouble breathing, one of the things we were told to be alert to. I immediately went around the corner of the section wall to the nurse's station, a trip of about ten feet, who threw down her pen when I told her, and hurried back to my mother to turn off the drip. In that short time it took me to go and come back, my mother had turned completely red in the face and neck, her breathing trouble was worse and she said she felt intense prickling in her face and head and was developing a painful cramp in her back.

The nurse gave her a shot of Benadryl right into the IV feed and it had almost immediate effect, easing the breathing first, then the flush and prickle and finally the back cramp. Within ten minutes she was almost back to normal. They gave her half an hour, though, to get really settled, then administered more Benadryl, some steroid and started the chemo drip again, very slowly. Everything went well after that, if slowly, but it was quite intense while it was happening. The nurse was very good.

But the point of this post is that instead of two hours it took five this time. You never know what a day will bring, and while I wouldn't say it's bad to plan, more and more I'm seeing the importance of being ready to change. To be flexible. The important thing isn't seeing your plans accomplished, or getting things done, it's to see the Lord in all that happens and adapt with grace and contentment. Enjoy the parts you can. Mostly we had a good time, and I was very happy I was there with my mother today, because it would have hard for her to summon help on her own. It's very difficult to call for help when you can't breathe... and there wasn't anyone else around in our little section. Plus the speed at which the reaction occurred was just mind boggling.

I also read through the remaining chapters of The Enclave and am pleased to report that I've finished the read through. Now I have to start the real work. But not today!

Tomorrow I'll go back to my reflections. Maybe. ;-)


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reflections on the Abundant Life, Part 1

As I've said, I've had a bunch of spiritual revelations (in the sense of concepts becoming clear to me in a way they haven't been before) in the last week or so, and I've been promising to write about them. Because I'm stopping myself with the roadblock of not being able to figure out how to order it all into a nice, contained essay, I'm just going to throw out the essay notion, and put stuff down as it comes. Including as I wrote it in my journal last week.

This particular eruption began with last Sunday's message by Pastor McLaughlin, which was awesome. I felt like I was being barraged by words from God -- not that Pastor is God, by any means, but he's sure my right pastor teacher, and God does speak to me through his words. And last Sunday I was deluged.

So what were some of things He said? "Enjoy your life... Live like the battle is finished and you've won -- you have... There is now no condemntion to those who are in Christ Jesus... Yes, I'm completely depraved. I can't do anything without help, including apply, but so what? I can do all things through Christ who keeps on pouring power into me... Don't walk around in negativity and gloom."

That's just a summary. All those thoughts have great implications for my life.

What was he teaching on? Dispensations. Why God gave the Law -- not as a series of rules to be followed, but to manifest His grace and mercy. The rules showed men that they were depraved, that they couldn't follow the rules. A portion of the rules, perhaps, but not all and perfect Righteousness demands we follow all of them, perfectly, and with the right attitude.

God put us here condemned from birth, depraved from birth, sinners through imputation not sinners through personal choice. (Though we certainly do commit sins through personal choice.) The Law was provided in part to show us who we really are, not who we'd like to be, or what the world says. It was provided to show the Jews that they needed a Savior. And also -- not to worry! -- that God would provide one.

The point wasn't to follow the Law to please God and get saved, and it isn't now. The point was to realize we don't have the power to satisfy God's perfect standards on our own. If that is so, then what does He expect of us? Or, more personally, what does he expect of me? To trust Him, the god of grace and mercy.

"My yoke is easy," says the Lord. "My burden is light."

If you think the Christian Way of life is hard, you're rejecting the fact that you have life more abundantly, that God said, "I will give you the power and ability to do all things."

If you have condemnation, guilt, regrets for what you didn't do, or should've done you are SINNING! (and need to rebound) When you recognize you're totally depraved, helpless to please God, all the pressure to do so vanishes. It sets you free. In God's sight I'm totally blameless already. Totally accepted.

Nothing I do will make me one ounce holier or accepted than I already am. Nothing I fail to do with change it either. It's over. I'm accepted by the God of the universe.

I know this. But what does it mean? Don't we have to apply? Capture thoughts? Obey commands?

Not to please God, no. Not even to receive blessing from God. He's already promised to bless me, beyond my ability to imagine. But I don't get those blessings because I obeyed the commands (like Quigley performing a trick for a treat). I obey the commands in order to live in the freedom He's won for me, which is in itself a blessing. I obey the commands to learn of Him, and be filled with His spirit, and think like Him, so that I can enjoy the inheritance He's promised me.

When you believe in Jesus, He gives you the perfect righteousness He earned by following the Law. And this +R requires blessing (there's a promise in the Law says that following it perfectly requires blessing). In God's sight you're totally perfect and blameless. There is no condemnation from God toward the believer. Blessing is therefore required, but God will not bless you until you reach maturity, where you won't be consumed by the blessing.

I can't bring myself to maturity. Only God can -- when I expose myself to the daily teaching of my pastor, perceive the word, believe it, make it part of my thinking, apply it. Part of that thinking is acknowledging the fact that God's thinking is that I live and experience the abundant life. That I enjoy the blessings He's given me. That I live like who I am in Him!

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the GIFT of righteousness (+R) will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. - Ro 5:17

Reign. It doesn't say they'll be losers in life. They'll suffer all the time because they're Christians and everyone's against them, they're the only ones who know the truth. No. It says they will reign.

Are you reigning? Taking power and control over your own life? Being an example of what it means to be a member of the Royal Family of God? Or are you walking around with a defeatist attitude: "Oh, everyone's against me, I'm going through suffering, no one understands me..."

You should be living like a CHILD OF THE KING! A member of the Royal Family of God. A future Bride of Christ. A member of the Body. You should be living with the power that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. With the attitude that I've overcome the world and greater is He who is in me, than he who's in the world.

You should be REIGNING and enjoying life.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reading The Enclave

I really should write a blog post. Before another day passes. I don't know what's happened to me. Maybe I've just gotten out of the habit, or, more likely, it has to do with the problems of the evening, where we have to fix dinner, walk Quigley, fool with Quigley, stretch, clean up, shower before bed (because we have a swamp cooler and it's been terribly humid with dew points closing on the 7o's and I can't stand going to bed all sticky)...

Maybe I'm slipping into a fugue state (Fugue state: An altered state of consciousness in which a person may move about purposely and even speak but is not fully aware. A fugue state is usually a type of complex partial seizure...) during the day and that's why parts of my life just seem to wink out. (Actually I think it's just that I'm getting distracted yet again by whatever happens to be lying about on the flat surface of whatever room I happen to have gone into for whatever reason -- looking for a pen, need to check something on the computer, need to find something in a book, need to find the book, going to put something away -- and time just flies away with me.)

Anyway, I've finally started plowing through The Enclave. Oh, dear. It's very First Draft Wretched. The first twelve chapters are VERY SLOOOOOW. There are so many things wrong with it, that it can be overwhelming, would be overwhelming if I didn't just step back and put in completely in the Lord's hands. He's going to make it beautiful and meaningful in His time. I have no idea how He's going to do that, and in my view He has a huge problem... but it's HIS problem, not mine. All I have to do is read through it and make whatever notes occur to me.

I'm on ch 22. I have made 202 notes so far. Those are the numbered ones. I also have random notes jotted on the ms itself. The problem in those early chapters was keeping myself in the chair and reading. It was a worse slog than the slog I reported on a week or so ago when I was trying to read that other fantasy novel for endorsement.

But why would I expect otherwise? My assignment in the first draft was always to just write and let it be bad. Let it be boring, repetitive, stupid, inconsistent, without direction... Well. It is. But it's cool in one way to see all the stodginess in the beginning, because those are areas ripe for cutting. And cutting is good.

I also have to report on the ranula. Last Sunday, while eating dinner, it suddenly doubled in size. Here I'd been resting in the Lord to take care of it, trying to convince myself it was getting smaller, and suddenly it was very definitely NOT smaller. We went to the dog park and came home and it was if anything getting bigger. If I had to wait two weeks just to see that Ear, Nose and Throat guy, I'd surely have to wait two weeks to get a surgery scheduled if I called Monday. And in two weeks I'm going to a Bible conference.

So the Lord had another problem. Finally about 9 pm, when the ranula was hurting and now seemed to be extending up past my tongue almost to the top of my teeth, I couldn't stand it any more went to Him and asked him to make it smaller. "Could you please just make it smaller now? It's driving me nuts. If it comes back tomorrow, fine, but this is...not a fun time."

I went in to brush my teeth, looked at it, realized it looked a lot different than it had before, almost like a soap bubble now, and the skin on it seemed so thin, I figured I could break it with my fingernail. So I did.

Clear mucus came out. The whole thing deflated. Half an hour after the prayer was offered it was answered. And as the days have passed the whole thing has receded. I don't know if it's just not closed up again (recalling the issues of removing the roof by surgery and having it grow back) and that's why it seems to be gone, or if it's really gone, but whatever it is, I'm happy!

There have also been many spiritual discoveries and realizations going on, but so far I've been unable to articulate them for a blog. Soon though.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dr. Horrible

I really enjoyed Joss Whedon's Firefly TV series and the movie it spawned, Serenity. So when I came across the link to his new project on Robin McKinley's blog, I went.

It's weird. Funny. Off color. Odd. Interesting. Has Nathan Fillion in it. Has some decent singing in it... but it's very, very weird. Still, what would you expect?

It's part of a plan that you can read about here:

But if you don't go by Sunday, midnight, it will vanish and then you'll have to pay. Later. Maybe. If it ever shows up again.

So go now and watch. Go.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


How weird. This is how The Enclave begins:

Cameron Reinhardt is an idiot!

Yes, he had a PhD from Stanford. Yes, he was widely acknowledged as a brilliant geneticist. Yes, Doctor Swain called him the field’s newest rising star, the Institute’s greatest asset, and a fabulous hiring coup. But this wasn’t the first time Lacey McHenry wondered how the man managed to get up in the morning and make it to his office fully clothed.

She stood in the open doorway of the frog room. A large, rectangular steel tank hulked against the bare, peach-colored wall across from her, one of its three, hinged covers propped back against that wall. Live frogs and toads scattered the concrete floor beneath it, watching her with bulging golden eyes; more of them had trailed slime onto the gleaming linoleum of the corridor behind her in their break for freedom.

Apparently Dr. Reinhardt had come in sometime this afternoon and forgotten to close not only the lid, but the door as well. Collecting his subjects, he’d hurried off to his lab, heedless as a teenaged boy, and never mind that all the remaining amphibians could and did escape; never mind that someone else would have to clean them up.

Surely he was living proof that a man could be a genius and a moron at the same time.

The frogs continue to have a place throughout the story, so for inspiration I have small plastic tree frogs scattered about my office.

Thus, it's somehow strangely appropriate that the cyst under my tongue is called a ranula, named after the belly of a frog. Euwww! Supposedly because it looks like one, though I fail to see the resemblance.

I learned all this from my visit to the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist yesterday, a visit that consumed two hours of my time but only about ten minutes of said specialist! Anyway, it's more common in females than males, and more common in children than adults. In fact, he's never seen one in an adult.

I'm honored. Not.

It's a salivary gland duct that has been up (been reading too much medicalese). We can go to the hospital and he can cut the roof of it off and let it hopefully form a new roof without the saliva inside it. Of course it might not do that and they'd have to cut the roof off again. Maybe again. Maybe have to take the salivary gland with the roof... Or we can just wait and see if it will go away. Which it probably will.

Since it's not really even bothering me any more, I opted for wait and see. The same thing I've done with the trigger finger. I suppose if it suddenly grows as large as my thumb, as the doc said they sometimes do (usually in children), making it hard to talk (heaven forbid) or swallow, then we'll take the surgery route. But that's future and we're commanded to stay out of the future so for now, I'm waiting.

The cause? They don't know. Possibly some trauma to the gland, though how that would be accomplished, I have no idea. Quigley's given me a lot of cuts and bruises, but I really don't think he could have reached the salivary gland. Maybe it was a particularly ferocious tortilla chip... The internet says it's bad luck.

Ranula. Too weird.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Answering Email

Today I answered the reader letter I received awhile back that was completely in Dutch. I ran the letter through one of those online translating things, and got at least a general idea of what was being said, but didn't see how I was going to respond. Especially since, according to the translation the reader's question was, "What does Arena have to do with the Bible?" Hmmm. Would I write it out in English and then put it through the translator for the Dutch version, then send that off to the poor kid (he wanted to use my answer for a book report...) not even knowing what it actually said. If it was as bad as the translation to English that I got, it might not even make sense to him. Her. I don't know.

So I just wrote to tell him/her I didn't read or speak Dutch. Which seems hardly worthy of the time I held onto the email without answering...

I've also actually answered a couple of friends' emails. A couple. As in, two. In between dealing with Quigley, and watching the news. Hmm. Maybe Quigley has had a greater impact on my life than I give him blame for.

I was watching the news so I could see all the storm damage Tucson's eastside sustained today. We had a fun hard rain at our house, on the fringe of the eastside storm -- we had black clouds thundering to our east, and sunlight shining through blue sky to our west. The backlit rain looked like silver blades hurtling to the ground. I tried to take a picture but the rain was so bright it just turned all white and you can't see anything.

When it passed, we took our walk around the park where, as usual, numerous fellow walkers commented on what a pretty/beautiful/handsome dog Quigley is. Yes. He is certainly that. And they didn't even see him in the sunlight. We also got sprinkled on, but it hardly mattered, given how humid it was.

Okay, I need to go rescue him from the backyard and get to bed.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thoughts on the Battle

Christian speculative fiction is often about the battle between good and evil. In fact, so is much secular speculative fiction. It's certainly a battle I write about in my own books.

It's also a battle I believe really exists. That being the case, it doesn't seem too likely the enemy would want such literature out in the marketplace, revealing their existence and tactics to whoever. Over the years there has been much lamenting over the fact that Christian fantasy doesn't sell, much talk of what to do to make it better, to get people to read it. But maybe the battle isn't against flesh and blood, but against "the spiritual forces of wickedness in the atmosphere." Maybe, if there really is a battle, books that illuminate it are automatically going to be a hard sell, ignored, overlooked, etc. If there really is a battle, maybe that hard sell should be the expectation, not a surprise.

After all, how do you reconcile the idea of great public popularity for a novel that puts forth Christian ideas with "If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." ("Hates," here, meaning "loves less," or "prefers against.") How does wild and widespread acclaim mesh with Lk 6:26 "Woe to you when men think well of you"?

And what about I Co 2:14 "a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised."


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


It's been almost a month since I sent The Enclave in to Bethany House and I've been bemused by the persistent blankness I'm continuing to experience when it comes to the written word. I wasn't surprised I'd have that during the first week afterward. Or even the second, but I am surprised it's persisted all the way into the fourth. I can talk all right, but when it comes to writing -- answering emails, writing a newsletter, updating my website, writing blog posts, even writing in my personal journal -- I'm still mostly coming up dry.

Part of that has to do with the routine we've established with Quigley, where I bring him in after Bible Class around six and then we take him for a walk or to the dog park. I used to go into the office afterward and write a post, but this past almost month, I've been too tired. Or we've gotten back so late, that it's time to get ready for bed (on account of the heat and having to wait until it's cool enough to walk) (cool enough being 100 degrees, or mid 90s).

I check email, see I have a ton of reader letters to answer, but can't seem to muster any gumption to start answering. Not even personal emails to friends. I've been doing other things, as I mentioned, but I really thought that would come to an end before I got the editor feedback on Enclave. Obviously it hasn't.

My editor wants the final draft by Oct 1. Since I'd been thinking I'd have til Nov 1 (not because anyone said I would, just because I think that's when I was supposed to have turned in Return of the Guardian King) and also that I just might be able to pull that off, it was a bit of a shock to have the deadline be a month earlier. I'm pretty sure I could email her about that, and maybe I should. Maybe the whole psychological game of setting a deadline earlier than I think I can manage, is just a sham and has no effect at all on my actual rate of progress, and only sets up another opportunity to fail.

If I was doing something that involved a clear direction and continuous actual things to do, it would be easy. But when it comes to those sections that are wrong, and you have to come up with something else that actually works, but you have no idea what it is... those parts usually take days of working at, thinking about, staring out the windows and so forth. There's no way to predict how many of those there'll be or how long they will last.

I really don't like writing to a deadline. I don't think it helps me at all, and I have been thinking more and more that perhaps I'm just not suited to the whole hurry up and turn it out climate of current day publishing. It still takes me as long as it ever did to write a book, and while I might actually turn things in sooner than I otherwise would have, I have the sneaking suspicion that it's at a cost to the quality of the manuscript.

Well, I've used up my words. Time to go think about dinner. But hey, I did a post today!


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Catching Up

Where does the time go? I knew I had missed a few posts but when I logged on and checked the last one, I was astonished to find it was a week ago. Well, there've been a series of smallish but annoying happenings that were momentarily distracting, but turned out not to be a big deal. Nuisances, time consuming ones, but no more.

Like the bizarre cyst I've developed under my tongue. I've actually had it for maybe two months, and thought it was a blister that I sometimes get from a food allergy. I had been pressing on it with my tongue, releasing the fluid in it, and flattening it. I kept thinking it would go away. Finally, last Wednesday, I couldn't release the fluid no matter how hard I pressed. That's when I realized that I'd had it too long, and probably should get it looked at. But who would I call to look at it? Thursday morning I talked to the nurseline through my husband's work, and was advised to see a doctor within three days, so I called my primary care physician and got in that afternoon.

Of course, it's distracting, especially with all the cancer talk that's been going on in our lives lately, and not just because of my mother. But I more or less refused to let myself go there and a good thing, since it's only a nuisance, the doctor said. Something that can be cut out on an outpatient basis (or might even go away on its own). He thought I'd get in with an ear, nose and throat guy within a week but they were booked up, so it won't be till next week that I can see anyone. Meanwhile I'm really thinking the thing is going away on its own.

On Tuesday (last week) I had replied -- finally -- to an email asking if I'd read a new fantasy novel for possible endorsement. Normally I don't do that sort of thing, but this time, being on "vacation" I thought I might give it a shot. The only problem was that the book in question is the second in a series of which I'd not yet read the first. But the publishers willingly offered to send me the first book to read in prepartion for the second. I told them that I'm a fast reader and if a book grabs me I'll finish it in a day or two, depending on the length. Both books arrived Wednesday evening, so I figured I'd have Thursday to read the first. And except for the intrusion of the matter of the cyst, I did. Except...

It didn't grab me. I kept stopping and thinking of other things I could do. Wanted to do. Eventually I stalled out at something like page 31. The next day I read about three more pages and stalled out again. I haven't been able to pick it up since. I have read that for some readers it's slow going in the beginning, but picks up later, so maybe that will be my experience as well. But I also don't think it's my cup of tea to begin with. And there's almost an aversion in me now toward reading it...

On Friday, Quigley tore up one of the cushions on one of our couches while we were away at dinner. We returned to a happy-to-see- us, tail-wagging dog at the back door, walked through the kitchen and dining room to the living room and stood there with our mouths hanging open. He had shredded the fabric and the batting, and tore out chunks of the foam base of the cushion, further reduced some of the chunks to bits and pieces, added in the shredding of several paper items and spread it all across the living room floor. He was having a jolly, old time. We were not.

None of our dogs has ever done such a thing, so we were completely shocked that he had. The only good thing about it is that that couch was old and on its last leg. We planned to replace it with a new one and were only waiting until we were sure Quigley was reliable. Well. We're sure now that he is not. Just in case we doubted, tonight he chewed a hole in his bed.

And yesterday he tore a hole in the orca chew toy I'd just bought him that was supposed to be for Rottweiler-type power chewers and designed to provide "long-lasting chewing enjoyment." Try five minues.

Friday he swiped the Fels Naptha soap off the kitchen counter that I was using to scrub barbeque grease out of my shorts... which gave him diarrhea for the next four days (the Fels Naptha, not the shorts). Sunday he was mugged at the dog park by a huge German Shepherd, a husky or malamute type dog and a pack of followers...

But tonight he and I took a walk around the park in perfect weather, with very few people, storm winds cooling us off and storm clouds providing great sunset views.

And yesterday my mother had her first session of chemotherapy where everything went splendidly. Instead of the six hours they told us it might take, it only took two. She had no allergic reactions, little discomfort, did not get sick and had a generally normal day. Today she had to return for a post-treatment shot designed to keep her blood count from dropping, one that she was warned might make her feel bad and achy. So far, though, that's not bothered her either. I grateful for the Lord's answers to prayer, and His gentleness with her in this situation.

And finally, rounding out the end of the missing week, today I talked with my editor for 2 hours about The Enclave as she gave me her feedback on it. Almost none of it was surprising (except maybe the part about it actually hanging together and not being boring). I'm not sure I'm ready to work on it yet, but I'm thinking I might start reading it tomorrow or the next day. Just read it through, nothing more. See what's there, but not make myself have to figure anything out. But first I have a couple of birthday cards to finish.

Well, that's it for this post. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow rather than next week! That's my intent, anyway.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Royal Family Weekend and Enclave

The monsoon is officially underway and once again we are watching the thunderheads build during the afternoon. This was taken through the front window, early in the process.

Last weekend our Pastor from Massachusetts, whom we listen to online, either live or recorded from a video stream and played three hours later (since 7 am is too early for everyone to get to church) came out to visit us, giving us some face to face teaching and some time of encouragement and fellowship. Friends from adjoining states came in for the occasion (as did our son, from San Diego), and we had a great three days. One of those nonstop talking things, that always leaves me with a sore throat, since I'm not that used to talking.

All in all it was a fantastic time. The things that were taught and said were amazingly right on target for the issues that we've been dealing with -- and the only way he could have known was through the leading of the Holy Spirit because we hadn't told him. Some of the things I hadn't told anyone about, so that was very cool.

I also got a chance to ask a question about the Nephilim (specifically how there could be some "afterward" as mentioned in Genesis 6, when they'd all been destroyed in the flood) which prompted a great deal of discussion. It's made me a little more comfortable about the theory I came up with for The Enclave, which I had begun wondering about lately.

Speaking of The Enclave, my editor has finished reading it, but will be out of the office for the next week until Monday the 7th when she'll be ready to talk to me about it. It seems weirdly appropriate that that should be the same day my mother begins her chemotherapy. I'm going with her and we expect to be there about 6 hours, so I probably won't be doing any book talk that day. We saw the doctor today, after the completion of all the tests, and it's become clear this will not be an easy process. But God chose it for our benefit and has His hand on it all. The important thing, I'm finding, is to stay in the moment and keep my mind out of the future.