When Your Helper is Way Too Smart for You

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I bought this iMac a couple of years ago. Love it. At the time I still thought I could be a professional writer. (Old dreams die hard). So what did I do? I bought a program called Scrivener that was going to make my writing life ever so simple. With it I could now have wings to carry me to success. Of course, my dream was to write fiction. Mostly historical. That’s what I like to read.

That didn’t happen. My forte is nonfiction. Later I’ll put one of my successes in that genre on this blog so you can read and let me know what you think.

January 1, 2015

It’s not only possible, but definitely probably that I’m not going to write anything longer than a blog from now to my eternity. (Two cliches in one sentence. So easy to do it’s frightening.)
I made no resolutions for this new year. Just this morning I heard a new friend say, “I don’t make resolutions any more. Doing that only turns me into a liar.” Yes, that’s true for me too.

My New Year started off with a bang. Not from fireworks or a gun, but from my daughter and her two birds and a dog moving in with me. I’m so happy that she’s here. The only thing we have to work out is where we’re going to put all the extra STUFF–hers and mine. The garage is almost full and the attic is in about the same shape. Could it be time to declutter? Yes, that will be the only resolution both she and I will make for 2015. No more time for blogging: decluttering awaits. Wish us luck? And “Godspeed” please. Happy New Year to all.

one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp

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How I came across this author’s “gifts,” I cannot remember. Probably Pinterest, but don’t hold me to this. Somehow her blog popped up onto my screen and I found her writing in that blog was extraordinary. Suddenly I was on Amazon buying her book. Here are a few quotes.

Dedication: “For the Farmer, who tended and grew my soul.”
Location: a farm
Childhood: Saw her younger sister crushed to death under a truck. Lost any semblance of “religion.”
Adulthood: Married a farmer and birthed six children.
Situation: Told she has cancer:

These are some of her first thoughts on her situation:

“That haunting ‘C’ word, the one with gluttonous belly and serrated teeth and the voracious appetite to divide and dominate. Cancer. It’s a slam to the gut, I green. And he blandly says the cancer’s been invisibly consuming bits and pieces of me while I’ve birthed the six babies, mopped their muddy prints off the floors, kissed the lips of their father at the door. He says there’s nothing to be done. All’s been devoured. Just wrap up the last of my living.”

Moving toward a deeper Relationship:

“Whatever. Ready for the end of here. Whoever. Ready for the first meeting of Him there.”

“Whenever: Soon. Will I have lived fully–or just empty? How does one live ready, and always? Yes ultimately, only Jesus…This. I live in this place, make porridge, scrub toilets, do laundry, and for days, weeks, I am brave and I do get out of bed and I think on this. I study this, the full life, the being fully ready for the end. I start to think that maybe there is a way out of nightmares to dreams? Maybe? I thumb, run my finger across the pages of the heavy and thick books bound, I read slowly. In the original language, ‘He gave thanks’ reads ‘eucharisteo.'”

If, by now, you are not entranced with Ann Voskamp’s writing, if you do not really care about her journey, may God bless you anyway. May the Love and Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be revealed to you and give you newness of life.

But if you too are taken with this smattering of her writing, buy, rent, or borrow this book! She will teach you to appreciate so much more of life than you have ever imagined.

Rave for a Book

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Recently a friend of mine dropped off a book, asking me to read it. She was so impressed by the first few pages that she rushed back and bought another one.
I couldn’t wait to begin reading, because any book that can hold my friend’s
attention for more than fifteen minutes has to be a winner.

It was. It is. The name of the book is “Soul Cravings–An Invitation to the Feast That Satisfies.” The author is Joel Warne and is published by Standard Publishing.

It’s a book about Christianity. It digs deeper than many may want to go. It
shakes your mind, heart, and spirit. Some of the chapters are: “Hungry, Savoring His Words,The Flavor of Intimacy, Relishing His Purpose,…”

His quote that begins the book is from Psalm 38:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” As you can see, he follows this theme throughout the book. He even dares to mention Christ saying that to be a Christian, one must “eat of His flesh and drink of His blood.” He doesn’t try to explain the unexplainable when he mentions this quote. Wise man.

He says that Christianity cannot be gained by logical thinking, for the miraculous cannot be made manifest by merely our brains. The heart/spirit of man is the area which connects with God. Logical thinking may cause us to be curious about spiritual matters, curious about that ancient tome, the Bible, but it can only take us part of the way.

“Certain Christian truths fall outside the realm of purely rational thinking. They are not irrational but extra-rational–beyond rational, greater than rational. They communicate realities that must be experienced in order to be understood, truths that must be lived to be comprehended. Concerning such realities any explanation–even explanations by those who have experienced them-always fall a little flat. So if our faith feels a little flat, perhaps it is because we are weighted toward a primarily intellectual, rational, explanatory approach to God.”

He doesn’t leave you after this, but shows you how to draw nearer to God than you have experienced. If you want to go into this sacred place, closer to God than you have ever been, let Joel teach you how to go about it.

“…only when a…

Quote

“…only when a man is gloriously joyous does the Shekinah (Glory) rest on him.” from Legends of the Jews

JOY!

Is it possible to experience true joy for all of life?

Does joy evaporate when we go through periods that cause us great sadness?

How does a person “get” true joy?

What is true joy?

C. S. Lewis says this about joy: “Joy is the serious business of heaven. Attaining that Joy is the business of the Christian.”

Real and true Joy comes to earth only through God’s Holy Spirit. This joy does not leave a believer as long as he or she remain committed to Christ–therefore, the Godhead.  God’s Spirit has been interacting with man since man began. According to Scripture, the Spirit came and went upon humans, as needed. With the dying of Jesus Christ, taking our sins upon His back and opening up Heaven for believers, the Holy Spirit was unleashed into our world, taking up residence in our hearts. Can our finite minds fathom what this truly means?

With the Holy Spirit came joy unspeakable: there is no way to fully explain to the world at large the enormity of this Gift. Many words are used to describe, or try to describe, this phenomenon, such as “happy, ethereal, peaceful, joyous, drunk, crazy, high, …” Dip into the book of the Bible called Acts, and you will get the full description. 

The Joy of Heaven, the Holy Spirit, rained, fell, came upon mankind. Joy made manifest! Joy made palpable, evident, apparent to the senses, obvious.  Those who received “It” were able to speak to people from all over the known world, and over 3,000 of them gave their lives to Christ on the same day. That meant, and still means, over 3,000 people were walking, skipping, and dancing around with the fire of the Shekinah Glory ablaze in their hearts. Now what’s so hard to believe about that?

That same fire burned for believers in the great cloud that led them out of their slavery in Egypt. It burned in Its tent home until moving into the temple’s Holy Place. The place where only the High Priest could enter, and only once a year. After Jesus’s death, the fire in the temple was extinguished and the heavy curtain that surrounded it torn in two. No Shekinah Glory was left on earth–until the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. 

NOW, that Glory gives all who possess it joy unspeakable as long as they continue in their walk in God’s grace. 

Has this been “tried and tested”? Yes. It held true in my life laboratory. I lost two of my six children, one thirteen years ago and the other three years ago. Was I shaken? Yes. Was I sad? Yes. But beneath those feelings God sustained me and enabled me to keep my Joy.  It was always there, its spark glowing, undergirding my spirit, waiting for me when my walk with grief had abated. That I have this most precious gift is the Joy of my life. To any unbelievers who might read this, may God bless you if you want His blessings, and may He have mercy on you if you do not. I wish each of you Joy.

Believers and a Nonbeliever on Facebook

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“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” – Saint Augustine

The interchange below was in reference to the above quote from Saint Augustine:

Mark O’Malley Statements like this are why if I had a time machine and a sniper rifle, Augustine of Hippo would be toast, If I parse this correctly, if I believe in pink leprechauns HARD ENOUGH, I will begin to hallucinate well enough to see them? Faith alters reality, to make the imagined real?
23 hours ago · Like · 1

Pat Carroll Marcantel Christ reveals Himself to those who believe. It can happen instantaneously, or over time, but it will happen–by sight, hearing, or any way He chooses to let us know He is with us. May God bless all who read this attempted explanation of the Devine.
22 hours ago · Like

Mark O’Malley Pat, if your level of belief determines the legitimacy and validity of your faith, then all religions are equally valid. There are Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims that have faith at least as strong as yours. Try though you might, you cannot wish something into existence.
21 hours ago · Like

Jana Semler Mark, why does our belief in Christ offend you so much?
21 hours ago · Like

Mark O’Malley Offend me? Not much. I just hate to see so many so mired in superstition.
21 hours ago · Like

Jana Semler Superstition? What’s with the labels? Just move on and enjoy your day. I promise you no one is going to pour prayers all over you – well, not to your face anyway.
20 hours ago · Like

Pat Carroll Marcantel The reality we experience was created by the Creator. That we can communicate with that Creator through His Holy Spirit is completely mind-boggling to those who have not been regenerated. Mark, pity us you may, but it is a waste of your good mind and energy. I am 81 years old and experienced this miraculous meeting many years ago when I was 39. No one ever “makes” another person believe in God. It is only the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the fire believers are blessed with when they finally surrender to Christ. Perhaps you’ve never felt the need for God and may never feel it. Whatever happens to you in your passage through life, try to remember that there really is a love waiting for you that will blow your wonderful mind, if you ever let “IT” get into your heart. Peace to you, fellow traveller.
20 hours ago · Like · 1

Debbie Lynn Odom Pittman Well said, Pat.
16 hours ago · Like

Debbie Lynn Odom Pittman Actually, I didn’t like the quotation itself as it is so ambiguous and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but Pat’s words were excellent and you can just feel the Holy Spirit as you read them.
16 hours ago · Like

Mark O’Malley I felt something, for sure.. Delete this comment, too. Hypocrites.
14 hours ago · Like

Corinne Vela Always and Amen!
12 hours ago · Like

On Writing a Novel: Revision is not a Four Letter Word

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Rebekah Faubion

revision

Revision is a bloodbath. It is an assault on words you vomited — eked, spit, sweat — onto the page during drafting. It is where you get to the heart of your story. It sometimes involves massive cuts, sometimes surgical edits. Sometimes it is about character, and others about prose. It is a process, and while there is no one infallible way to revise, there are some truths universally acknowledged.

Write Tip #1: You must read your entire manuscript, from start to finish. There are no exceptions.

As you begin to read your manuscript, you will consider carving out your eyes with a melon baller as an alternative to reading anymore. Push past that and separate yourself from the hope that your first draft isn’t total shit. Even if you are a seasoned and stupendous writer, your first draft will have cringeworthy moments.

This read through is to identify the Global Problems

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A Promise Made, A Promise Kept

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I pinned a picture in Pinterest of a Louisiana man (long dead) named Valcour Aime and wrote part of a poem I composed about him many years ago. Because of the restriction of 500 words per pin, I was able to write only  a snippet of the poem. I left this address so any who were interested could find the rest of the poem here.

The Farmer: The Plantation on the River

Valcour Aime was the richest man

who ever lived in the Delta land

The sun shone right after drenching rain

and he made sugar from the purple cane

On the plantation on the river

This rich man was very proud 

of his only son and he vowed

Gabi would have everything

that all of his money could possibly bring

To the plantation on the river

So little Gabi had ponies to ride

and servants to pet him if ever he cried

and a fort in a garden that had a moat

around about it with its own small boat

On the plantation on the river

On a mound of earth near the fort 

was a Chinese temple with every sort

of tinkling bell that could be found

to dance in breezes round and round

Near the plantation on the river

Then Gabi died one summer night

and after that it seemed the light

just went out from his father’s eyes:

“What didn’t I give him?” the old man cries

From the plantation on the river

             (This sad tale is actual history

               and touched my heart when

               I read about little Gabriel dying.)

 

 

Journal Writing 101: 7 Things to Get You Started

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If you’ve never written in a journal, it may seem intimidating to you. Take note of the little word “seem.” Don’t be fooled. You can write about anything and everything in a journal. It all depends on how transparent you are willing to be. Unless you plan to burn every last one of them before you croak, you need to realize that your words will be down for your executor and God knows who else to see. You can stipulate in your will that they are to be destroyed upon your death. Hopefully, if this is your wish, it will be carried out. 

First of all, because you may be asking yourself “Why in the world should I keep a journal?” I’ll give you some reasons why:

1. Journal writing often gives heart’s ease (peace of mind, calmness of emotion).

2. It gives you a record of your days and thoughts.

3. It can put you in tune with creativity. Ideas will more likely flow. 

There are many types of journals: Records of activities, “Dear Diary,” meetings with God, blowing off steam, and so on. Once you begin, you’ll fall into a pattern that feels right for you.

7 Things to Get You Started:

1. Buy a journal. You’ll find a wide array of journals to choose from. Bound books, feminine or masculine in appearance–pick whichever  one appeals to you. Open each one and see how if feels to your hand in writing mode. You may like the spiral-bound ones best, some of which have pleasing covers. You may opt for a spiral-bound college-type notebook. Whatever “floats your boat.”

2. Buy yourself a wonderful, comfortable pen. If you’ve ever read any of Natalie Goldberg’s writings, she strongly urges this. It makes sense. it gives you a sense of pride in your writing. A nice, fat pen is good for your hand.

3. Set a time of day or night for journaling. Mornings are usually best. If you’re not a morning person, pick whatever time is best for you.

4. Write your name on the inside cover and the date you began.

5. Date each entry completely, including the time.

6. Write as though you were talking to your best friend.

7. Aim to fill at least one page per day.

Now I’m going to share some of my journal writings with you.

 Thur. Nov. 16, ’89–11:07 p.m.   

 “I dreamed last nite that I was in the old house on the farm–the roof was leaking–man came and re-roofed the den. Rain came and it leaked worse than ever. He would make it good. Blamed his helper. Then a tornado blew up and all around and when it got near us it had a face with glowing red eyes and a large shape of a huge muscled man-lion. I rebuked it in the name of Jesus and it went by. Praise God. I’m worried about rain for the Elizabeth show, I do know that. If rain if forecast, no matter how low a %, I’m not going. All my work would be ruined.”  (My “work” is art–watercolor, pastel, and mixed media mostly on paper).

See? Nothing to it. This was one of my shorter entries. Don’t want to bore you. If you would rather type than write with a pen, just do it that way, but be sure and bind up your sheets of paper so they will be readily available to you.

Bon voyage on your trip into journaling. I hope that you’ll find it productive. Let me hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s get creative!

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Are your bags packed for a trip? Are you itching to go? Will travel really broaden your mind, make you more creative? “Yes,” to both questions. But you don’t have to travel, actually move across the world near or far, to tap into your creativity.

Some of us, let’s face it, MOST of us, don’t have the resources to be state-to-state-travelers, much less world travelers. So no matter what exotic locales Ernest Hemingway wrote in, or how many places in France Van Gogh painted in, travel isn’t necessary to produce creativity. Our wonderful, God-given minds take us to places we see only in pictures. The internet opens up the world–so what if we don’t have the smells of those places, we have the pictures and sometimes the sounds.

Our imaginations and our capacity for passion open up the world for us. Do you love to cook? This is an art. If you have passion for it, your creativity can not only please your family/friends, you may produce a cookbook, or even become a master chef.

Begin with journaling!!! I can’t stress this enough. Write it down. Use the computer if longhand is not palatable or possible. Print out your pages and compile them into a book. Then begin another one and then another…

Writing, cooking, exercising, gardening, dancing, painting, counseling, animal-training, repairing engines…the list is mind-boggling. Begin today, not tomorrow, next-week, next-month, next year. Those days may not come for you. DO IT NOW! Do it with love. Do it.

I Wanted to be Emily Dickinson

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Scribblings over the years

 

Scribblings saved over the years. My poor children will need a backhoe to get rid of all my stuff. How does this happen? Surely no one plans for this to happen ? Actually, I have more notebooks stashed away. (Is confession really good for the soul)? It’s not like this is actually SIN. Oops, now my hands are trying to tell me that it is SIN, and they have the swollen, aching joints to prove it. Okay, I’m caught–guilty as charged.

Actually, I wanted to be Emily Dickinson reincarnated. There were several problems with this yen: talent, or lack thereof, and no sense of real order, as in neatly putting away writings tied with delicate ribbon. Oh, I’m still scribbling and pounding out poems. But I need to be assembling these children into a semblance of collections. That sounds so “together,” or at least it does to me.

To poets, would-be poets, and poetry lovers at large: Don’t stop because you’ve not been published, or perhaps not ever encouraged. Don’t let the stack of journals intimidate you. Poem on. Dream on. Study on. Love on.

Here’s a poem I recently wrote.

“Behold, the New Religion”

unexpected, yet not unexpected
after all, we do have a guidebook
and if we read it, we see clearly
that history does repeat itself
but who would think that shepherds
of thousands would lead the sheep
into apostasy, and use the media
to spread and promote the same?
The list of churches supplied by
Google is more than a trickling stream
more like a river unleashed by a
melting snow, cascading down a
high precipice, dislodging boulders
large enough to tear a heart from its
moorings, and many a heart it will injure
before the separating is done, the wheat
from the tares, and surely left behind
will be the false shepherds grown fat on
worldly success who traded truth for lies