Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plans for America's Demise?

Here's the video I promised.

It's a cut of Senator Obama outlining his plans for our "defense" interspersed with relevant video clips from various news sources of events that have occurred over the last year, the whole of it set to dramatic music.

What struck me even more than Obama's plans, were all the forces that are still working to upgrade their military capabilities, and their unrelenting animosity toward us and toward Israel. Which, of course the Bible has predicted both in the specific with regard to Israel, and in the general, with regard to nations that promote freedom and Christianity. If you were of the world the world would love you. But you are not of the world and so it hates you.

The ironic thing is that, hated and disdained as we are in the world, those of other nations are still happy to take our money and aid, and we still have hordes of them trying to come here to live in our "horrible" country!

Some people might find this video disturbing and even frightening. I don't. I know that God will protect us, as He has all along. As long as the Christians in this country continue to follow His will and plan, growing in grace and knowledge and that as a nation we stand firm on the principles of divine establishment and the protection of Israel, He will continue to do so. If we fail to do that as a nation, and the majority of Christians sink into apostacy, as is foretold in 2nd Timothy, then we will see more episodes of "crisis evangelism" similar to what happened on 911. Whatever happens, though, He will always protect the remnant of His people who remain faithful.

P.S. Quigley is all better. More tomorrow.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Signs of the Times

Though the Rapture is imminent (can happen at any time) Jesus himself spoke of signs of the times we should be aware of as members of the church, signs that will precede His return.

I should note here that there are actually two returns of Christ. The first is when He'll come in the air to gather up the church age saints (who alone will see Him) and return with them to heaven. The second is a bodily, feet on the ground return to Jerusalem when everyone will see Him as He arrives to deliver Israel from the enemy nations that have gathered to destroy it. Nations like the European Union, Russia, China, and the Arab states like Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Since there are only seven years between the first return (or rapture) and the second, the signs of the times can be applied in some measure to both, since we can assume that many of those signs will occur on a lesser basis prior to the beginning of the seven years.

Here are some of those signs:

Israel's rebirth as a nation (Mat 24:32,33)

A decline in morality (2 Ti 3:1-4)

An increase in violence, ethnic wars, hot wars, cold wars (Mt 24:6-8)

An increase in famines, earthquakes, natural disasters (Mt 24: 6 - 8)

An explosion of travel, knowledge and education (Dan 12:4)

An explosion of cults and the occult (Mt 24:5)

The movement toward a one world government (Dan 7 - 12)

An increase in the apostacy of the church (2 Th 2:3)

There are more, but just these few I think are indicative that we are indeed in the end times. I've set all this down because I found a video I want to share that I think has more impact if you view it from the the standpoint of dispensations and these signs of the times.

By the way, the US does not figure in prophecy at all, most likely because, despite all our faults, a large number of us are believers in Christ who will disappear in the Rapture. Probably a lot of us are soldiers, sailors, police and even political leaders, the loss of which will have a dire effect on the nation's ability to protect itself, both against enemies within and without.

Besides, the United States was founded by Christians as a nation designed to protect the freedom to worship Christ in accordance with one's beliefs in what the Bible said. The other freedoms came along with that one. From our inception we have been what is called a client nation to God, maintaining the freedom to worship whatever god or creed one chooses, the freedom to speak, the freedom to evangelize. We send out more missionaries than any other nation on the globe. We provide more aid to the poor and suffering than any other nation, too. We've provided a haven for the Jews, and have defended Israel as a nation. We are in a sense the ultimate church age nation. When the church is removed, I believe the United States will for all intents and purposes cease to exist.

And that video? I'll post it tomorrow.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Quick Tour of Dispensations

I think I've mentioned before on the blog that I hold to the dispensational interpretation of the scriptures. In a nutshell that means I believe that human history as recorded in the Bible can be looked at in terms of different time periods or ages, during which God had different policies of interaction with men, particularly those who were saved.

That there have indeed been different ways in which man was to relate to God seems obvious. While salvation has always been the same (believe in the messiah and you shall be saved), the methods of serving God and learning about Him and interacting with Him as believers, have not.

In the age of the patriarchs (Adam to Moses), the male head of the family served as priest for that family, interceded with God on their behalf, carried out the required sacrifices, and taught them the things they needed to know about God. There was no written scripture. God communicated through visions, dreams, angels and the stars.

With the coming of the Law and the nation of Israel, the patriarchal priesthood changed to the Levitical priesthood, where a line of (male) priests descended from Aaron took over the job of representing the nation and individuals to God, carrying out the required sacrifices (which were much more elaborate and numerous) and, along with the prophets, teaching the people about God. Moses penned the first written word of God in the Torah, which was added to throughout the period of the Jews to form the Old Testament.

Most scholars delineate the next period as that when our Lord was on the earth in human form, beginning with His birth and ending with His resurrection and the subsequent beginning of the church age on the Day of Pentecost. The priesthood had been completely corrupted by that time. Though the Pharisees, scribes and priests knew the Bible backwards and forwards, somehow they were unable to correlate all the obvious scriptures and prophecies that pointed to Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah, and instead crucified Him, unwittingly fulfilling the very prophecies they had ignored.

With the coming of the church age, things changed dramatically. Not only is the Law no longer in effect, but now the priesthood resides in each person who believes in Jesus -- male, female, Jew, Gentile, slave, free. All the sacrifices from the OT Law are set aside because they were all shadows (teaching aids) of what Jesus had just completed on the cross. We no longer need to offer a sacrifice, merely confess our sins and in so doing cite the completed work of Christ on the Cross on our behalf.

The Apostles added the final section of written scripture to the canon with the New Testament, producing new revelation directly from God in the form of "mystery" doctrine. The church age, which was inserted into the age of Israel, and of which we are a part today, will conclude with the miraculous rapture, where all church age believers (the dead first, then those who are alive) are taken up to meet the Lord in the air. (I Th 4:16, 17)

At that point begins the seven year period of the Tribulation, which also comprises the final days of the age of Israel as computed by Daniel. It is said to be the worst period of time to be alive on the earth and if it were not cut short by the Lord's return would see the total destruction of mankind.

Why am I suddenly going on about dispensations? Because I found a video today I want to share, and I think it has more impact if you think of it from the standpoint of Dispensations. And the signs of the times...

But more on that tomorrow.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Not My Plan

Today was a Not My Plan day. That is to say, my plans were not fulfilled.

Except...if I stand back and really look at it, they were. I got my morning routine done, I did my Thursday trip to the grocery store, I made rice and fed Quigley (multiple times) and he seems to be feeling very energetic. I had a great call from a friend and we got to have a stimulating conversation about doctrine. I got in my two hours of writing, and my hour of Bible class. I even got to go over my notes from the last two classes before today's.

But... I had three scenes in chapter 10 and had planned initially to take out all but the last one. Then somehow it seemed the second one might work there after all, but I would handle it by narrative summary. Except then it didn't want to be a summary and ended up being a confrontation with dialogue. Well, that's not terrible. I still had the first scene gone so that was good. All I had to do was write a summary of that. Maybe a paragraph. Cam was distracted, after all. He wouldn't be paying attention anyway...

Except the other characters didn't see it that way. They wouldn't LET him be distracted. Not only did they keep getting his attention, they kept doing it in very threatening ways. So, at the end of the day, the first scene which I definitely thought would not be in the chapter, is in the chapter. Partly as narrative summary and partly as actual dialogue. So now I have two scenes I wasn't planning and the third, which has to be there, yet to rewrite. Does any of this work?

I have no idea. But here's the thing, I actually got a lot of stuff done, and on some level it was my plan. Just because it wasn't my plan in the specific details is a pretty silly reason to feel like things went awry.

The other thing that didn't go as I hoped is Quigley, who this evening, showed us that he still has very runny stools, but at least they're yellow now. I'm starting to sneak in a bit of kibble with his rice. Maybe that's why it's runny. Or not. Who knows? I have to stop thinking about it.

I have to get some sleep (Q got me up at 6am to go out and I never went back to sleep). I've been dragging all day.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Trust the Pilot

I had thought for sure I talked about this before (beyond a brief allusion in the post Watching Penguins) but having searched my blog with every combination of words I can think of, I can't find it.

It's my pilot analogy to Faith Rest, with God being the pilot and me being the passenger sitting in my seat reading my book. I was almost certain I'd blogged about this, but I guess I haven't. Anyway, when I get on an airplane, I have to trust the pilot. I have to trust that he actually knows how to fly the plane, that he's going to take me to my destination and not get lost and that he can land us when he gets there.

How silly it would be if I started worrying en route about whether we would get there, left my seat and barged into the cockpit demanding to know our course coordinates, altitute, windspeed, etc. Even if they told me all that, I'd have no idea what it meant. No, I am to simply sit in my assigned seat and read my book (or converse or sleep or... ? ) and let the pilot fly the plane.

So it is with God. He's my pilot. He's flying my plane. I have to trust Him to take me to my destination, and I really don't know how He will do it. I don't know anything about course coordinates, prevailing winds, airspeed, etc. I have to trust that He does. How stupid it would be to spend the flight looking out the window and worrying as I try to figure out if we're in the right place and really going where we are supposed to be going.

It seems so utterly insane to do any of that, yet I do it with God all the time. Most recently I've done it with the book and with Quigley. So it was very cool when on Monday, after I had been clearly told to leave the issue of Quigley's health alone, that someone sent me an email of various pictures of short or precipitous runways. Like the one below. With the title...

Sometimes You have to Trust the Pilot

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Getting out of God's Way

Quigley's latest ailment and what's going on in writing have come together to strengthen some understanding I'm gaining about what it means to get out of God's way (which I mentioned in an earlier post, His Order and Timing) . In giving Quigley's situation over to God first, but also -- in the physical realm -- to my husband to handle, it's occurred to me that once you are no longer the one having to make the decisions, you don't have to do the assessments of what is going on. I don't have to answer why his stool is a certain way and what is the best way to deal with it. I don't really have to think about it at all, since it's not my problem.

Neither do I have to think about the big picture, what is actually happening now in his intestine, what might happen tomorrow, what needs to be done about it, etc, etc, because I don't have to make any decisions. In the case of Quigley, as I said, I've given his situation over to my husband to decide. In the case of the book, it's a little harder to see because it seems like I am the one making the decisions. There's no one else in this office but me, so...

And yet, when I start thinking I have to make the decisions about it, do something, figure something out, I get overwhelmed. I can't make them. I've asked God exactly this question (How do I get out of your way in this?), and I believe that over the last few days He's answered me . Here are my conclusions relative to how that works with writing:

How Do I Get Out of God's Way?

1. Stop demanding or even trying to solve the problem.

2. Stop trying to figure out what the problem is.

3. Relax and let Him provide answers in His order and timing.

4. Read through the text & make whatever changes occur to me.

5. If nothing occurs, that's fine, too.

6. Remember this is supposed to be fun: a privilege and a form of play.

It's working. I applied all of that today, and have a bunch of ideas for chapter 10 and 15 pages of text to work with. The Unity Meeting that formerly had nothing to do with Cam and his next scene, now has everything to do with him. In fact, I switched it from Lacey's pov to his. So now I can do some things with her, as seen through his eyes, that I couldn't do before. I'm jazzed.

Oh, and how's Quigley doing? I have no idea. He's eating a lot of rice and chicken, is acting fairly normal and energetic, there were no dark stools today (so far) but there was one very runny one this evening, despite three doses of Pepto Bismol.

It is so freeing not to have to figure out what any of that means, or what I need to do, just to remember that God's got His hand on it all, He knows what needs to be done, what is going on, and He will take care of all of it.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Quigley Again

I'm really tired. Quigley has diarrhea again. It started Friday night. Saturday he wouldn't eat anything and was not quite his usual self. We went for a three mile walk though, and on it he passed stool that looked like chocolate syrup with a couple of lumps in it, and smelling strongly metallic (as in blood). I found that quite alarming. We came home and started him on a bland diet.

Sunday he seemed to be fine, except he was so hungry he was chewing everything, so it became a matter of do we want to put rice and chicken in him or have him put dirt, grass, sticks, the carpet, dustbunnies, you name it in himself? That night on the walk he only had two droppings and they were yellowish and pudding-y. Well, at least we were past the dark chocolate stuff.

We went home thinking he was on the road to recovery and I think I fed him a bit too much rice and chicken, because despite gobbling it down, about an hour after eating it, he threw it up. And the meal before that, I think, as well. Then he stood or lay around shivering, looking lost and out of it, and sometimes it seemed like he was going to sleep where he stood. It was past time for bed, and cold, so maybe that partially accounted for it.

Then at 3 am he woke me up to take him outside where he squirted the chocolate syrup stuff again. He did that two more times a half hour to an hour apart. In between I brought him in and he was all wired and wanting to eat. So I fed him, boiled more rice, mixed it with chicken. Fed him again.

By 8:45am the stool was yellow and puddingy again. So I've been feeding him small meals of rice and chicken anywhere from an hour to two and a half hours apart throughout the day. Also gave him a dose of Pepto Bismol according to Internet advice my hubby collected. We did that last time, too. It seems to help. Anyway, lots of cooking of rice, cleaning bowls and searching the backyard for watery things I hoped not to see there today. Thankfully, I didn't.

Tonight on his walk we had the yellow pudding again, some of it with blood, but none of the dark stuff.

Despite all that, and the fact that I'm running on about 4 hours of sleep, I stayed the course with my two hours of 100% concentration on writing, and have begun to patch together the new chapter 10.

Now, I have to go to bed. I hope.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

His Order and Timing

Last Friday, I had a bit of a revelation.

I was reflecting on that day's writing stint (and yes, I have maintained my two hours at least a day of 100% concentration on the writing) and asked myself if with every book the writing of it seems more hopeless than the last book, and every time the Lord comes through... why do I keep doubting Him? If I truly believe He is the one doing it, and all I have to do is get out of His way, then my most important job (along with or maybe even moreso than showing up and giving 100% concentration) is to stay in fellowship.

That day, as I'd begun to consider the chapter, the problems, the questions, possible solutions, the new problems created by those solutions ("but if I do that, the book will end up way too long!"), I began to get anxious and tense. In the past I might have wandered off in search of something less disturbing, but this time I suddenly recognized the thought testing that was coming to me from the work itself. And the fact that I was approaching it with the wrong mindset -- ie, that it's something I'm doing, a set of problems I have to solve. Now. Or else!

I didn't even notice when I'd made the switch in my thinking, but I did notice the increasing tension, as I said, and the mounting desire to do somthing else. Really, to run away. So I confessed my fear and arrogance and recalled -- it's not my problem. I'm not writing this book, He is. Through me, yes, but He's doing it. All I had to do was read through the material I'd written yesterday and do whatever occurred to me. Or, more specifically, do whatever He told me to do at any given point. Easy.

So I did that -- worked my way roughly through pg 10 of chapter 8 and to the point where I think I'll break off with Cam's pov and switch to Zowan's.

The chapter's still not right, but I remind myself that God will reveal the elements of this book in His time and His order and my task is to be aware of that, note what He has done and forget about what He hasn't. Yet. I really don't have a clue, even yet, what this book is truly about and how everything is going to happen, but He does and I am learning (slowly) that He doesn't reveal things in the way I would consider most logical or even necessary. He reveals them as He wills, and the cool thing about that is that it reminds me over and over, every day, that He's doing it and I'm not. That without Him I'm nothing.

It's not up to me to figure out what all is going to happen, how to present what, what elements really are key and what are not. Yes, I know in time I will see those, but me striving to figure all that out is not something that works when I have as little time as I do. I think He's given me these deadlines to put me exactly in that place. So that I will always be clueless, and always be reminded that I am not doing it, and so can take no credit.

I can take credit for making positive decisions toward learning His word on a daily basis, submitting myself to my prepared pastor teacher, and sitting my butt on the writing chair and reading yesterday's work. And that's about it!

Today (I'm writing this on Sunday) I took completely off from not only the book but the computer (last week I discovered the dismaying fact that when I try to put in too much more than the two hours I start to get the carpal tunnel again). Tomorrow I'll be back at it, but this morning's message was a series of reminders of the truth of what I've just written here. He does it, we don't. I must decrease, He must increase. In my thinking. In my motivation... When I truly understand how much He loves me, life -- and writing! -- is fun.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dihydrogen Monoxide

Today while driving to my dental appointment, I heard a funny clip on the radio from Penn and Teller who got someone to go around at some rally with a petition to ban "dihydrogen monoxide." That's um... H2O. Water. But they presented it in environmental activist terms. "Do you want to sign my petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide? It's now in reservoirs, lakes...Nuclear companies use it, styrofoam companies, pesticide companies.."

They got a LOT of signatures. One woman even said, as the petitioner was listing the things dihydrogen monoxide causes, "I'm familiar with it, yes."

I've embedded it here, but be warned -- there is some not so great language, and just because I've cited it here, doesn't mean I endorse Penn and Teller. Until today, I'd never even heard of them, and some of the other videos they do, which came up on YouTube when I went looking for it, had titles that did not sound at all appealing and were, well, crass, crude and probably profane. Worse, though, was one that indicated they have little respect for the Bible... and possibly outright hostility. I didn't watch it, so I could be wrong, but one of the reasons people give things titles is to draw you into looking closer and I'm not interested in looking closer at some things.

Be that as it may, this video demonstrates the fact that people as a whole really are as the Bible describes us -- grasshoppers, nitwits, foolish, lazy, easily deceived... No wonder Jesus never entrusted Himself to men, nor sought their good opinion -- He knew very well what is in them.

I also liked Penn's conclusion that people join things because they like to be a part of something, and saving the Earth is "sexy." All you have to do is sign this petition to do something vital, huge, noble and crucial like save the Earth. Wow. That's a win-win situation. You get to feel good and you hardly have to put out anything at all... Okay, enough of me. Here's Penn and Teller


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What is an Enclave?

From Wikipedia:
In political geography, an enclave is a territory whose geographical boundaries lie entirely within the boundaries of another territory.

The word came late into the jargon of diplomacy in the English, coming from the French with a sense inherited from late Latin inclavatus meaning 'shut in, locked up"

Ethnic enclaves are communities of an ethnic group inside an area where another ethnic group predominates. Jewish ghetti and shtetlekh, barrios and Chinatowns are examples. These areas may have a separate language, culture and economic system.

From Websters: a distinct territorial, cultural, or social unit enclosed within or as if within foreign territory

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cautiously Optimistic

Well, Day Three of applying the new plan, which is to say, two hours of set apart time with 100% concentration on the writing. It worked. I did it, even though it seemed like our house was some sort of call desk this morning. There were something like eight or nine phone calls in the two hours I'd set aside (several of them were hangups, where they call and activate the answering machine message but hang up before the tone sounds). Half of them were those phone solicitations we’re not supposed to be getting anymore. Three of them I had to pick up and answer…

Usually we don’t get that many calls, so that was kind of weird. Didn’t get any after the two hours was over, either, but I’d already decided that I would turn down the ringer and silence the answering machine for those two hours in the morning, then turn stuff back on for the second stint (and I am planning to incorporate a regular second stint, though maybe just make that optional. Set apart, yes, when it comes to concentration, but only the first two hours HAVE to be done.)

Another thing that’s helped is that I’ve put away a lot of stuff that was formerly lying around being distracting. And no email until I get in those two hours of concentrated writing. Then 15 minutes of answering email before I can “send/receive”.

So. This is cool. But I'm only cautiously optimistic. I know I'm going to crash and burn because I always do. When that happens, I can rebound and resume the plan. Meantime, though, it's one day at a time.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Some Things Grow Clear

I think I might have mentioned that I've been having trouble concentrating and staying with the work. I keep thinking of all these things to do besides write. And before it's time to write, I often get this feeling of oppression and discouragement. The feeling that the work is no good. That it will never be good. That no one cares. That it's all a failure. Why am I bothering, etc, etc. Unfortunately I don't usually take the time to focus on the specific thoughts behind the feelings, I just feel the feelings. And so I don't want to do the work.

Then when I do manage to get myself into the office and start to get settled, little thoughts keep coming in to get me off track. I should check the email! I need a pen. Then I go to get the pen, and stuff lying around the house in a different room distracts me and the next thing you know I'm organizing my stamps or cleaning spots off the wall, or doing something with Quigley.

Last week I asked the Lord what was wrong with me. I got the idea then that maybe all these thoughts didn't originate with me. I've heard that concept before -- Pastor has mentioned it off and on -- I just didn't really think it applied to me. Usually he mentions it in conjunction with concentrating in Bible class or praying... But now I thought maybe it could apply to my writing as well and that it wasn't all me. So I asked Him. "Do these thoughts originate with me, Lord?"

That very night, Thursday, He answered me in Bible class. NO! They do not!

Here are a couple of quotes from the speaker (Evangelist Scott Grande, standing in for Pastor McLaughlin who's had a back injury) first on the subject of concentrating during Bible class:

"When my mind wanders when I'm in class... those thoughts are distractions from the kingdom of darkness. You must CAPTURE those thoughts; lock them up in a prison in your mind... during the time dedicated to exposure to Bible Doctrine, concentrate on the Word being taught and block out all distractions. This takes mental discipline."


Even as I was taking notes, applications were rushing into my mind: all those thoughts to check the email, the blogs, to go do X (not writing) are NOT from me. And not only are those thoughts from the Kingdom of Darkness, but I'm certain the negative ones are too -- the doubts, the "what's the use" thoughts, etc. The word tells us that Satan wants to wear down the saints. We are told not to grow weary, not to lose heart, not to get discouraged. It tells us Satan and his minions will try to do that very thing, get us entangled in the details of life, try to persuade us that what we are doing in God's plan for our lives has no worth or purpose. Those thoughts have to be recognized, captured and replaced with truth.

Evangelist Grande went on to detail potential distractions, of which several struck me as being particularly fertile ground for my enemies to plant seeds in: the desire for something easier to do than struggle with this book, the desire for attention and approval, the desire for social interaction, the hypersensitivity of caring what people think, feeling sorry for yourself when you don't have all you want... but then he hit the last one and it got me all excited: Interruptive technologies.

Cell phones that interrupt you whenever as you are trying to focus. Or...

"I'm at the computer, looking something up and the email's on. Ding! You've got mail. Ding! Southwest Airlines flight specials. Shut the stupid things off and give 100% concentration to the work."

I don't have a cell phone. And I do not have my email open. I have to open it and push send/receive to check it. Those aren't really very strong barriers though. When I sit down and the thought comes, "I wonder if so and so replied. It'll only take a moment to check," and I believe that, and don't recognize that thought for the big fat worm on the hook that it is, I'll be lured away for maybe a couple of hours.

So I've decided to set aside time (sacred="set apart") devoted to writing, and during that time I will devote 100% concentration to the writing and allow no distractions. I'm also trying to come up with some sort of opening routine for my writing time, a couple of steps to go through every time to give me something preplanned to do that I can do whether I feel like it or not: pray, stretch and read through yesterday's work.

I've only adhered to this little change for two days (Friday and Saturday) but so far the results have been amazing. It just feels different. To really know those thoughts are not little harmless, it won't take long thoughts, but deadly enemies. Vipers. The little foxes that trample the branches and thus ensure that they will not be producing any fruit.

Of course the proof is in the long term, so momentary enthusiasm means nothing. It has to be day by day...

Oh, but that was another thing he said, again referring to the study of Bible doctrine -- the daily study of it, which is commanded by the word, and essential to our spiritual growth. But we're not supposed to be living in the future. We're supposed to be living in today. So don't think in terms of "daily intake," think only in terms of today. Today I will make sure that I get in Bible Class, because it's the most important thing I will do.

So it is with writing. Today I will make sure I get in my two hours, (in addition to Bible class of course) because that's part of my calling, and I have to be taking it seriously.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


Well, I got in some fairly decent work today. That's not to say I've made decent measurable progress, but I actually stuck to the program and concentrated, with frequent trips to the Throne of Grace for help. Help sorting through my confusion, help maintaining my concentration, help finding the right word. And slowly, painstakingly, one sentence at a time, I crawled along. I now have a sequence of thoughts/events to guide me. Next I need to go through the stuff I've written at the end of the chapter and figure out how to line that up with the sequence. If that makes any sense at all.

Anyway, things were going quite well in the get things done on my list and in order category. I even made lasagne tonight, putting it all together right after Bible Class, so it could cook while we took Quigley for his walk. Unfortunately... somehow in my haste... I forgot to put it in the oven!!!

Arg. It's cooking now. We won't eat until 9 o'clock. Hmph.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Marketing The Enclave

Today UPS delivered an unexpected package from Bethany House: the very fancy marketing plans notebook for The Enclave pictured at left. It's really nice.

Inside is a series of dividers designed to hold information on the BHP marketing plan, suggestions of what I can do to help promote the book, a place to store copies of whatever publicity materials they send me, a place to store records of book sales and a place for ads and reviews. It's quite nifty. I'd heard that BHP was doing this, but it's the first time I've had them send me one for one of my books.

Here's a shot of the binder opened. In addition to the above materials, they have included some shelf talkers ("Local Author"), and some "autographed copy" stickers, in case I want to toddle down to the local bookstores and sign any copies they might have ordered.

There's also an article on what those Amazon Sales numbers are all about, a frequently asked questions sheet, listings of the sales and marketing teams (which is nice, since in the past I've never really had them all laid out like this) and an Author Timeline.

The latter begins "six months out" and suggests the author begin to plan appropriate website updates to promote the book, complete the "Influencer list" and begin compiling a media list.

Influencers are supposed to be people "who would be strategic advocates the book and help get the word out about it." I've never really thought about it in that way, just sending it to the people -- friends, mostly -- I think would really like/want it. Then I read the next sentence on this paper and it says "This list may include friends, pastors, ministry leaders, etc." and it occurred to me that it does! Boy does it... It's funny how people I have mostly thought of as friends I suddenly realized were also "pastors, ministry leaders, etc..." This is noteworthy to me because it's something I never set out to do, and just seemed to have happened. God's doing, really, and I find it amusing. And cool.

"Six months out" for a book that's due to release in March (though it will most likely be April now, with the deadline shift) is close to about now. Hmm. That is somewhat disconcerting, considering the fact that I'm still stuck on chapters 4 & 7...

Ah, well, I know that if there was anything I could do about that, I would. God knows it, too, and I really think He's deliberately keeping me in the dark. Letting me fail, get distracted, wander off, beat my head on the desk, etc, just so I will know that it's not me and my wonderfully executed perfect plan that got the job done, but Him. In spite of me. Very definitely in spite of me.

But today I talked out some of my current issues with one of my friends, and it was very helpful. My problems are twofold -- figure out what my protagonist is feeling and thinking (and there are multiple options/issues) and then figure out which of that (if not all) I want to portray and how. The fact that Lacey, my heroine, is supposed to be confused and torn among various motivations is what's had me going in circles for all this time. It's slowly working itself out, but... sheesh!

I remember going through this sort of thing with Abramm's scene on the balcony the morning after he slept with Shettai in Light of Eidon. When he was torn between wanting to swear allegiance to Khrell and continue on with the gladiatorial battle he was scheduled to fight -- and die in -- that same day. I fought with that one for weeks, I think, before I finally got it resolved. Now it seems just fine, but back that... whoo! Not at all fine.

Well, time for bed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Into the Wild

Last Friday we rented the movie, Into the Wild, a Sean Penn production (that's almost an automatic strike against it in my book) based on the 1996 book of the same name by Jon Krakauer based on the life and unfortunate death of Chris McCandless at the age of 24. Some people, including Penn, regard McCandless as a hero, a pilgrim and a seeker of great... um... well.... I'm not sure. But you can go to some websites and read the burblings and ravings of people who view him (as portrayed in the movie) as an angel, a courageous and daring young man, an amazing individual who, had he lived, would have changed our world... Like this one HERE.

Well, I don't know too much about the real Chris McCandless, but the one as portrayed in the film was a completely self-absorbed twit who thought way more highly of himself than he ought to have and died because of it. But not before torturing his parents and his beloved sister with his wrong-headed... seeking. Or, to put it a bit more gently, he was a poor lost soul, with a hole in his heart only God could fill, but since he wasn't interested in God filling it, he could only wander about trying to fill it with other things.

The story begins with young McCandless entering the Alaskan wilderness in early spring, afoot, with a backpack, sleeping bag, and plastic water bottle tied to the outside. The man who drives him to his "launch site" hands him a pair of rubber boots as he is about to set off, telling him he'll need a good sturdy pair of rubber boots to keep his feet dry. This is a Clue.

Then the movie switches to the past where we see him graduating from college, apparently with flying colors, but with a real grudge/resentment problem toward his parents. They are horrible in his view and the cause of all his discontent, which is considerable, despite the fact he has everything -- a college degree, money, a family who actually cares about him, health, youth, good looks, etc. Of course, it's true none of those things are a true source of happiness, and his parents, like all parents, are people with old sin natures who've made their share of mistakes, but it was the utter ingratitude and judgmental spirit he had that I didn't like.

Once graduated, he endured a painful graduation celebration dinner with his despised and disrespected parents, then set off on his journey of whackiness ... er... self-discovery. First he donated all the money his parents had given him in a trust fund to charity, destroyed his credit cards, social security card, driver's license etc, and took off on a road trip.

When he parked in a dry wash in the desert during the rainy season (another Clue) and awoke as flash flood waters inundated it, driving it into the side of an arroyo and rendering it useless for driving, he, for some inexplicable reason took out all his cash and burned it. Then he began hitchhiking, wanting to be free, to have no rules, no restraints, no responsibilities, no ties... just floating along as he willed. Who needs money? He'd just hike along and live off the land.

Except he took rides from people who did need money, and spent it on the car he was riding in and the gas that powered it. He ate their food. He slept in their houses or travel trailers. So it was kind of... inconsistent.

And a little later, after he had burned the money, he went to work on a farming combine, because... I guess he needed money. Maybe we were supposed to see how foolish he was, and that he did eventually realize that money might be needed.

Anyway, the whole thing was all about him, his needs, his wants, his refusal to submit to any kind of rule he didn't like. No one was going to tell him what to do. No one was going to impinge on his freedom.

He moved through various people's lives, all of whom became enamored with him for some reason, only to be left heartbroken. Most of all he crushed his parents, disappearing without a word or hint of his intent, then never calling, writing, or making any attempt to contact them. He even changed his name, and did everything he could not to be found. Meanwhile, through his sister's eyes (she narrated the film) we see the agony he brought to his parents, which she seemed to think was justified (as did he).

I got the feeling throughout the movie that I was supposed to be admiring the guy, liking him, applauding him, but I just thought he was... well, what I said. Twit. Lost soul. Blind. Arrogant. Self-absorbed. None of those lead anywhere good. In this case, he was determined to go to Alaska and find himself. Find his answers. What is life about? What is happiness? Who am I?

My husband has relatives who live in Alaska, and we've been up there as a family a couple of times. We've also read a lot about the place, particularly about those who hunt there or go out there and try to survive. So we have a frame of reference for the kinds of things you need to do there. And everything McCandless did was just stupid and naive. He walked in with a ten pound bag of rice, lived there for about three months and starved to death in the height of summer. (Or maybe he died of eating poison leaves, as the film depicts. Or moldy seeds. Or bad water. Investigators still aren't sure.) He shot a moose, but had no idea how to butcher it, had made no preparation for doing so, and worse, no preparation for smoking the meat, which was his only means of preservation at the time. So he lost the entire carcass.

The weirdest thing to me was that after all that talk and drive about getting away from society and civilization, he finds an abandoned bus out there in the middle of nowhere, with everything provided -- heat, light, warmth, a bed, shelter -- and that's where he stayed. It seemed like such a contradiction. The guy goes out to the wilderness to get away from civilization and ends up staying in the only sign of civilization for miles.

If you want to read an interesting and balanced account of this odd tale, including quotes from various Alaskans about how easily McCandless could have gotten out rather than dying, go HERE.

The movie itself is beautifully done, and shot entirely on location, so you get to see Virginia, South Dakota, Arizona, California, Alaska. It has a sound track full of songs by Eddie Vedder and it was nominated for two academy awards. Sean Penn wrote the screenplay and won a best writer award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards 2008. Emile Hirsche stars as McCandless and the cast includes Marcia Gay Hardin, William Hurt, Hal Holbrook, and Vince Vaughn.

It has actually sparked a lot of thought and conversation in our house. I think what it does best of all is illustrate the foolishness of the sin of independence, which has at its base the arrogance of being so completely focused on self and self's desires, that you lose all objectivity about life. Most particularly that we are all fools, and miserable and blundering around apart from God.

It did however give me a nightmare...


At the film's end, McCandless, in a desperate search for something -- ANYTHING! -- to eat, is dining on the surrounding plants. When one of them makes him sick, he is shown discovering in his Edible plants guide the fact that he had mistaken an inedible plant for a good one and poisoned himself. The results were an inability to absorb nutrients, nausea, vomiting, paralysis and without treatment, death. Since he was trapped there, he thought, by the spring-swollen waters of a nearby river, he knew he was going to die. And eventually he did.

Right after watching the movie, I decided I didn't really like it, that it had bothered me in some way that made me think of Quigley, though I couldn't figure out what. Then, that night I dreamed that Quigley had eaten something he shouldn't eat and we all knew that he was going to die. I was very upset. In the dream. Awakened, I thought it was somewhat funny, especially since Quigley is like McCandless in more ways than just eating the wrong things...


Monday, September 08, 2008

Monsoonal Return

It rained over the weekend, pretty hard, and they're forecasting a return of storms, which gives me an excuse to share this photo from a couple of months ago, when the sun was shining in the west and the rain was moving in from the east. I wasn't sure the rain would actually show up, but I think it does pretty well.

The chainlink in the foreground is part of a little "atrium" we have at the backyard gate so we can have two gates into the yard, sort of a safety/containment feature for Quigley. It's worked out pretty well for us, especially with him.

Also in the picture is Adam's old gym set, and to the right, behind the grapefruit tree, our no longer used pigeon loft. Originally it was a chicken coop, then we got rid of the chickens and a few years later, started raising homing pigeons. Here's an old picture of some of them:

Today I took my mother for her fourth and final chemotherapy treatment, and this time everything went smoothly again. She's still having sensitivity problems with the drugs, particularly in the days following the treatments so they are giving her prednisone to counteract that. The doctor tried to get her to go for two more weeks, but since the data supporting this treatment came from studies that used four treatments he didn't have hard facts to support his advice, only a "gut feeling." She'd had enough of it all, though, tired of feeling bad, which this time was for over two weeks, and came in there ready to quit.

Next up will be radiation treatments, which seem like they'll be much less troublesome, but one never knows.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin

Wow! I am so impressed, so jazzed. I didn't hear her speech last night, but I read it online today and heard parts of it delivered in a video montage. It made me cry. I think from the pleasure of hearing so much common sense and of having so many of my values echoed. She is very cool. I loved the line about McCain being the only one of the men on the ticket who has actually fought for us. The only one who has ever really fought for us "in places where winning means survival and defeat means death."

I love that she has taken part in butchering a moose, that she rides snowmobiles... but mostly that she is so direct, and hits the issues straight on and clearly and also that she isn't afraid to take it to her opponents. The community organizer bit was hilarious. And so was the part about the Styrofoam Greek columns.

I love that she doesn't whine or complain, just jumps in to get the job done. Actually I had heard of her before last week, because we have a subscription to Alaska Magazine and there was an article on her a few months back. They mentioned the birth of baby Trig and his Downs Syndrome then; and also that she might be considered for the VP position.

She's dealt with a lot of difficulties, and is now going to be dealing with...the media. Though she may over match them, actually. Today I read somewhere that the media has finally found someone it's own size to pick on: a 17 year old girl.

As always though, I find these media frenzies to be fascinating. Its power much as I disdain it, is still very real. The photos, the videos, the words of supercilious commentators, the magazine covers, the endless criticisms and condescension coming through the air at us (well, except for the magazines). The lies, the distortions, the half truths, the omitted truths, the incredible overblown claims some of the candidates make when they have nothing to claim... it blows me away. I just cannot conceive of baldly lying like that, when the truth is so obvious or so easily proven. But I think I'm beginning to see that truth isn't always obvious to everyone, and bias can serve as very effective blinders. People really do tend to believe what they wish to believe.

And I find it interesting that today I should be looking at all of this and tonight the lesson began with reading from Eph 6:10-14.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places... all of those categories of demons of varying ranks.

"We have a strong, organized, intelligent enemy..."

And I thought about the nature of the attacks on Sarah Palin, and how we as Christians would do well to examine and take note of them, for it is a very open, overt illustration of how our enemy attacks us. Indeed, I believe the same source is responsible for both attacks. Not that the individual people who make the statements are demon possessed, though some may be. No, it's the whole system of thinking out there. A system that people suck up, partly from being continually barraged with it until they come to believe it, partly, as I said, because they want to believe it.

It's amazing to see the media machine go on the attack. Don't line up with what they believe to be true and right and they fling the actual issues out the window and go for their victim's jugular. Ad hominem attacks are the order of the day. And it doesn't even matter if the attacks are true. The only objective is to destroy.

I'm not saying Republicans are exempt from this behavior. I think it's one common to humans in general, one that has its origins in the thinking of the ruler of this world, Satan, the legal Adversary, the accuser of the brethren. The whole system that is attacking Sarah Palin stands as a small example of the much larger system that attacks God. Assaults and denigrates His character, impugns His motives, says He's something He's not, ignores His good works, looks for any excuse to blame and vilify. This larger system is across the board, varied, complex, subtle, and all around us. Its proponents work tirelessly to accomplish their goals, not just with non Christians but Christians too...

Which is one of the reasons we need to have our minds renewed with His thinking through Bible study on a daily basis.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Enclave's Projected Cover

Well, I wasn't sure if this was going to be the final cover or not, and I'm still not sure, but since it's now showing up on Amazon, I figured I better give the readers of my blog a peek at it:


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Slamming Every Care On Him

Well, I've been more or less continuing to apply the principle of slamming every little care upon the Lord. But I keep questioning. There's been a lot of little cares, so I keep having to do it, over and over, and the thing that's hard is the not thinking about it part.

The latest was Enclave. Not just what am I going to do in it next, but what am I going to do, period? Should I listen to the part of me that's not wanting to work and do other things? Or should I force myself to do something? If so, what do I force myself to do?

On Sunday morning, I wrote in my journal: "Is it really that you slam every little thing on Him and don't think about it any more?" (Yes, I've been over this and over this. I'm a slow learner. I can't believe, I think, that it could be so easy. That I really DON'T have to figure it all out, come up with a plan and execute it.) As I said, it's the "don't think about it" part I'm struggling with. Though I'm not sure what I think "slam the cares on Him and leave them there" means except don't think about them, since it's the thinking about them that's the worry part...

Anyway, after writing that question, I took a shower, did my morning routine with Quigley then, as I got ready to eat breakfast, I opened one of my little books full of excerpted notes from Bible class. It was completely random, when you just open the book and expect to page through it to the place you're looking for. Only this time the page I opened to said:

God has given us instruction on how to walk and please Him. He has taken care of the trip. He knows where we're going and what we need and He's provided everything we need. DO WE BELIEVE THAT???

We've received advanced doctrines and motivation to continue to spiritual maturity and on into No-Man's Land, and we can excel still more. Going ahead will blow you away. But there'll be times YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT.

That's the whole point: believing more and more just how great God is, despite what eyes say or friends or your body, your bank account, the world. THAT'S ALL HE'S AFTER -- that in spite of all the chaos and nonsense and distraction and silliness, we stick. We continue to believe Him and trust Him.

Anyone who heard the lesson taught in Basics class tonight at Grace Bible Church in Massachusetts will recognize that the same concepts were communicated. I especially liked the part about how, just as God did everything for us concerning salvation while we were still his enemies, much more will He do even more everything for us concerning all that comes after now that we're His children. He has a plan and He's provided everything in it that I'll need to carry it out. And primary in that plan/provision is that I learn to think like He does, which means I learn who He is, more and more, and what His grace -- what His plan for me -- is really about.

Grace upon grace. Living grace upon salvation grace. As we came to Christ, so we are to walk. Not depending on ourselves and our ability to solve our problems or come up with a solution, but believing Him and waiting for Him.

So yesterday I did that. I told Him I was going to trust Him to move me to write, if that's what He wanted me to do. And if not, I would just enjoy my time in Him and not worry about it or guilt myself because of it. And it turns out, He didn't want me to write, because I didn't do a lick of it.

Today however, what was a blank field, an empty room, a solid, featureless wall, turned into a field of possibilities. Chapter 7 has begun to take shape and I did it today. Because I wasn't supposed to do it yesterday.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Lots of Rain

We stayed home for our four day Labor Day weekend, and endured a lot of rain at the wrong time. That is, rain that suddenly deluged right about the time we were getting ready to take Quigley for his walk (on two separate nights) so that we couldn't. Worse, we couldn't put him outside for shrieking either (I can't believe I worried we'd have a hound that made no noise!). Shrieking is what he's taken to doing at night when he wants you to do something (usually you have no idea what) or he wants you to stop doing something he doesn't like (for who knows what reason) -- thinks like cutting out a picture from a piece of paper, shaking water in an empty barbecue sauce bottle, trying to watch the news or working at the computer.

His shrieking is so loud it makes my ears ring. I can't stand it, and Stu doesn't like it much either. So eventually we put him out despite the rain. Then brought him back in... which meant lots of in and out and drying off and washing off of feet.

My son and his girlfriend were also here from San Diego. He stayed with us and she stayed with her grandparents who live here in Tucson. We spent some time with the two of them on Friday night. It was good to see them.

Honestly, I don't know what happened to the last four days, except that today I was really, really tired. That is no doubt partly due to the late hours we were keeping. I guess I did do a lot of stuff, even though it doesn't seem like I did because it was routine stuff or things like fixing breakfast and cleaning it up and washing sheets and cleaning out the office so someone could stay there... the kinds of activities one tends to disregard as anything worth noting or recalling.

I did try to get in some work on Enclave, Ch 7, but beyond noting that the entire existing chapter is totally lame and needs to be completely redone, I made no progress. I did try, but the blankness is upon me again. So I cast that care on the Lord and tried not to think about it, even though part of me is still insisting that it's irresponsible not to think about it and just trust Him to move me to do whatever needs doing at the right time. But since that's the only application that seems reasonable to me right now, I'm going to stick with it. He can surely straighten me out or make up for my misapplication, and that's what I'm going to rest in.

And now I'm going to go stretch and maybe take a bath. I did get most of my Monday chores done, so I won't have to worry about that tomorrow. Whether that means I'll push forward on Enclave remains to be seen.