Monday, May 6, 2019

Snippets of Rapunzel-on-the-Moon as seen in Sleeping-Beauty-on-the-Moon

I have mentioned my sci-fi retellings-on-the-moon series before {Phantom of the Opera//Inside My Mind snippets; Sleeping Beauty//The One Who Sleeps}, and every so often I get a few minutes to attempt plotting them together, mostly via random snippets where I go, "Oh, wow, that would be so cool if-" XD 

Arielle's snippets often spark this particular one of my story worlds, and most recently it was the Rapunzel writing prompt as part of Fairy Tale Central's theme this month. (Which is going to be awesome! Last month's was one that has always fascinated me, and this month's is one is one that has similarly frustrated me [just...WHY DO THESE PEOPLE MAKE SO MANY BAD DECISIONS], with both having so many pieces of story-inspiration...exploring the tale through May will be fun!)
Rapunzel 1
click to join!

The directions are to start with the above, and then to choose some combination from the following to write a scene: 

Rapunzel 1.5

Me being me, I mayyyyy have adjusted a few pieces...but hey, the following is what I got, so I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse of the scene where I realized that my Medusa character {escaped cyborg/genetically engineered human who pretty much runs the black market on the moon} is also my Rapunzel character, and my Prince Philip {Philipa Thakur-Lee, child of the Begali ambassador to the moon, allowed to go to university there because he is #genius} character desperately needs her help in rescuing his Sleeping Beauty {first genetically engineered human; forced into cryosleep after a spiteful scientist messed with one of her genes}. 

   "Medusa, Medusa, let down your long hair," Philipa said, lowering his voice as he started for the door. 
   "You mean set loose my snakes? And no, I just put them away. You think you're that special? You haven't paid me enough for that kind of protection." 
   The flat, even, robotic quality of her voice was beginning to put him on edge.    "How about any kind of protection? I'm hiding in a utilities closet. Do I look like a-" his shin knocked against something metallic and he gritted his teeth "-ladder to you?" The screen in his hand lit up suddenly and he froze, watching body after body flicker into range of the heat sensor. "And I won't be able to pay you anything if you don't get me out of here!"
   Voice modulator or not, there was amusement cushioning her voice. "For an ambassador's child you are adorable. You realize I have access to your accounts, correct? I can get the rest of what you owe me regardless of your status. And might I remind you, I did not advise you hide in a utilities closet."
   "Remind me to check the credentials of the next person I hire to break me into a top-secret government facility!" he hissed. 
   She hissed back, voice suddenly terribly emotionless. "I check the credentials, little prince, not you."
   He clutched at the ladder beside him, air leaving his lungs in a sudden rush of grief and horror that nearly sent him to his knees. It had been almost seven years since he'd heard his mother's nickname for him, and he was unprepared for the knifing pain behind his breast bone, or for the thundering shock that shuddered after. He knew, though he could not have said how he knew, this was no accidental blow. Medusa was informing him, far more clearly than saying the words exactly, that there was nothing about him that she did not know or could not find out.
   There was also no one else he could turn to right now.  He smiled fiercely, tasting bitterness on his tongue as the sharp pain resolved to the ache he knew. Nothing else could have put the iron to his resolve more than a reminder of his mother, and if she could give up her life in a secret sacrifice unknown and unremembered, then so could he. But she had never gone down without a fight, and her son would do no less. He touched the cross at his throat in wordless prayer, the smile still upon his lips as he watched the heat sensors glow brighter yet. 
   "Please, Medusa, if you've got a way to get me out," he whispered. "The Sleeper is going to be erased if we don't save her."
   For a moment there was silence so deep he wondered if she had turned off the au-com. Then hissing filled his ears, louder and louder until it was almost a roar, and the darkness about him flickered golden yellow. 
   Medusa had set loose her snakes.  

And just for fun...I'll toss in a bonus scene WHICH I LITERALLY STARTED IN RESPONSE TO the following prompt:

Weekly #2
see here for people whose prompts apparently followed the rules

planning to pull in

Weekly #3
or here for more of the same
and then the scene just never went that direction...instead evolving into an ethics discussion between my Prince Philip character and one of his friends. 

I don't think Raziel is going to be Rumpelstiltksin (who in my world is a genetically modified individual with some form of alchemist abilities), but also I don't think he'd mind if he ends up becoming said character. (Both Carpe Vinum and Chosen One, meanwhile, go to my Sleeping Beauty character who for obvious reasons ( being cryofrozen for centuries...) wants to never sleep again and also is not sure how to win the war sparked by her awakening. It's going to be fun.)

I do end this bit somewhat in the middle...but I'm curious on what your thoughts are on their discussion as is, and who you find yourself agreeing with, if either, at this point. XD 

Mvasi moved slowly away, her dark skin gleaming in the FireLights like burnished bronze. Raziel looked after her with enough despair and longing haunting the edges of his gaze that anyone could have read his thoughts.
Philippa hit him lightly on the arm. “She’s a biosimilar, my friend. Look away.”
“Mvasi’s barely a biosim,” Raziel snapped, turning to face him with vicious emphasis on her name.
Philippa looked at him again, more concerned than he had been a moment before. “You know what biosimilar means, Raziel.”
“Indistinguishable from human,” Raziel whipped back, his gaze returning to Mvasi’s retreating figure.
“It means a human who volunteered for experiments to make them beyond human. Mvasi can transmit you with her eyeballs. She’s a walking camera. Literally a live feed—the definition of a body cam.”
Now Raziel turned to face him fully, anger flashing ice through his blue eyes. “She was blind before. They offered her sight.”
Philippa blinked. “How do you know that?”
“Because I asked! Because she’s human first, biosimilar second! Just because you can’t dream of a reason for allowing anyone to experiment on you, golden child, doesn’t mean no one has valid reasons.”
“It’s not that I don’t think she is human—” Philippa started, ignoring the golden-child slur, but Raziel slammed his fist into the table hard enough that its touch screen flickered warning red.
“You just said the experiments made them other than human. Just because your father wants to criminalize them doesn’t mean you have to toe the party line, not with me.”
Philippa flinched, trying not to bristle. “Since when have I ever held a party line I didn’t agree with, whether my father supported it or not? And of all people, you know I refuse to be a chamelotician and that I have never changed my stance based on the person to whom I was speaking.”
Raziel took a deep breath and Philippa pushed carefully into the space given him.
“My father opposed the biosimilar experiments because of the dangers. It’s not that I don’t understand why people might want to see again—it’s the possibility of what others might also want. She could be hacked and spying on you without you or her ever being aware. She has pieces in her brain that 99% of the population on the moon, let alone elsewhere, do not fully understand. This about the integrity of humanity—that there are some things we should not touch, and right now there are no checks on the system—who knows what else they did to her brain while they were in there.”
Raziel flung up both hands, barely managing to keep his voice from rising with them. “You’re not supposed to know! It’s none of your business. It’s medicine. It’s between the patient and her doctor!”
“That’s what they said back when pre-birth infanticide was legal.” Philippa said before he could stop himself.

Horrified, Raziel stared at him. “Surely you are not suggesting that baby killing is the same as an adult consenting to brain surgery, that the government has the legal authority to prevent people from having life-improving surgery in the way that is supposed to prevent people from killing each other. Make us all slaves of the state, why don’t you! We owe our minds and bodies to our motherlands! Or to the moon itself! Spirits, Philipa Thakur-Lee. You are bleeding moon-touched.” He pushed away from the table, coming violently to his feet as Philippa leaned back out of his way. “Why does it bother you so much that someone would partake in an experimental treatment, hoping to regain their sight, their hearing, their voice, their limbs? How did medicine progress this far? How are we on the moon?”

Saturday, March 2, 2019

what would you do, if you were not afraid? 

    “Ready for another?” The runner snatches the last mini-prescription from my hand and I glance at my translator, a young El Salvadoran missionary barely out of her teens.
    “Ready!” she crows, and I laugh, pointing to her water as a reminder while tipping my own water bottle up to drink, splashing the water purposefully across my face, already dripping with sweat.
     “Let’s do it!” I say, waving to the next patient in line. There are over 200 patients to see today, and only four physicians were willing to see them.

To give you some background, I called myself shy as a child. My hands shook at my piano recitals, the idea of walking down the aisle for a graduation ceremony somewhat horrified me, and if you asked me to make a telephone call? I was going to dread it all day and come up with any reason I could why someone else should make that call. Run into a store, talk to a stranger? No thanks, let's maybe have my little brother do it.

So how did I end up as one of those four physicians, at a tiny church in a foreign country packed with individuals with little access to running water, let alone modern modern medicine, trying to practice medicine in a language I only occasionally understood? Supposedly the risk of acquiring Zika virus was low (the one child brought to us had gotten it 5 years ago), we were given prophylactic vaccines and antibiotics to reduce our risk of acquiring infection, and we had also been assured that local gang members (including the infamous MS13) were aware of our presence and our purpose, and would not bother us (though of course we were also repeatedly warned not to display any sort of valuable item, take pictures of gang graffiti, or become separated from our group). “Low” risk or not, these are all things slightly more dangerous than making a telephone call - and involved speaking with substantially more strangers. 

You want to know something funny? Even now, as a physician, I still have a moment of dread when I realize I have to make a phone call. I literally just wrote a post on how recently I have struggled with serious fear, and if you read back in my blog, it's clear this is not the first time I've allowed fear too much leverage in my life. (See: prior to match day as another fairly recent example. And worse, the time I was unable to control my own learning ability or even eat normally because anxiety had taken so strong a hold, and it was terrifying.) Anxiety does run in my family; there are members who ignore it and members who self-medicate in unhelpful ways and members who depend too much on medications they should take in conjunction with other interventions they tend to ignore.

Over 18% of adults and over 25% of those between 13-18 years old in the USA, or one third of the total population (depending on which studies you review) have some form of anxiety disorder.(1, 2) Up to 62% of students report "overwhelming anxiety." (3) Both as a physician (I see teens and adults with anxiety all the time just in my own practice, beyond the research we study as residents), and because my mother is an APRN who specialized in psychiatry (and I hear from her research and teaching all the time as well), and because I am a YA fiction writer (who spends too time online and sees a great deal of my target audience with exactly the amount of anxiety I'd expect from current research, if not a great deal more), I have a front row seat to the fact that Millennials are the most anxious generation while the proceeding generation is not that much better. (4) 

Generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive, post-traumatic stress - there are multiple major types of anxiety, and they can present in various ways. A diagnosis of problematic anxiety can be made if 3 of the following symptoms occur more than 50% of the during at least the last six months:
~restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
~easily fatigued
~difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
~muscle tension
~difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep (5)
We're all at least a little familiar with the pounding heartbeat, stomach butterflies or nausea, sweaty hands, racing thoughts of anxiety, or even merely the nagging sensation at the corner of your consciousness that something is not right. (See the book The Gift of Fear if you're interested in a somewhat disturbing look at intuition and why you should pay attention to it; be aware the book is for adults with discernment.) Often, more severe symptoms like recurrent headaches, recurrent stomachaches, or diagnoses such as fibromyalgia are present along with anxiety. In my own experience, symptoms can start small and then increase dramatically to the point where it seems impossible to control or push through them. 

As a physician and as a Christian, that is the line I do not want people to cross. I've heard plenty of Christians throw "God says do not be afraid" at people struggling with anxiety, and act as if it's a club to hit the anxiety and not the person struggling with it, when often as not they've simply added to the burden with which that person is being forced to deal. 

Also, I want to be clear - there are forms of anxiety we cannot conquer with a strong will and some positive thinking push-back. In fact, if you consider several more facets of what the Bible has to say about anxiety, it also states that "perfect love casts out fear." Who has perfect love? Certainly not us. If we are to conquer fear, conquer anxiety, live fearlessly - we need the help of the One who created our minds and our hearts and our bodies. It's something beyond our own strength and ability to fully control. Sometimes His assistance includes the use of medications that He has graciously allowed us to discover to help with the problems of living in a fallen world existence we were never meant to endure. Very often it requires the assistance of counsellors or therapists with extensive training in how the mind works and how to retrain the pattern of one's thoughts. (I would argue that sometimes parents or close friends can provide incredible assistance with this...but I've also seen a great deal of harm done by Christian "counselors" who manifestly do not understand how the brain or body function or malfunction.) 

But always, in my opinion, and regardless of how severe or what form a person's anxiety takes, there are several pieces that need to be recognized. 

A) The normality and the abnormality of anxiety. 
The warning portion of fear, like the warning portion of pain, is actually a gift in the messed up world in which we live. We need to exercise caution, we need to remain aware of the world around us, we need to not do stupid things. That said, those in the service of the most High King have done insanely idiotic things by the standards of the world, all in the Name of the One they worship. (Been tortured to death rather than lie about their belief in that One, for example.) In that sense, fear has no place. If we are called of God, nothing should make us fearful enough to not follow. 
This doesn't take away from the fact that Satan sends attacks of anxiety against as many Christians as he possible can, and he's winning the battle with a fair number. [Reread what I said above if you think I'm saying anxiety is purely a sin problem and people just need to buck up.] If you are anxious and a Christian - you need to recognize how common this is, that you are not alone in it, and that, while sin needs dealt with in a serious manner, there are also times we cannot simply 'believe our way through' certain biological/physical/mental difficulties. Look at the statistics above and consider that if you're anxious in a crowd, every third or fourth person you see is anxious about something, if not the crowd itself. 
At the same time...and this is important...please recognize that anxiety is abnormal. We were never created to live in fear. We were not meant to have this specter haunt our days. General worry or attacks of anxiety and panic were never meant to occur. Some of us have to deal with it more than others, whether due to our DNA or to things that occurred after we were born - either way, fear was never, ever meant to control us. 

B) Better is possible. 
If we are not to be anxious and were not created to be anxious and with God anything is possible...the thing that must be realized is that it is possible to become less anxious. I'm not saying try more and you're going to be fine--I know it's harder than that. But step by step, whether those steps involve prayer, Bible-reading, therapy, medications, or cold-calling everyone in the phone book until you're no longer afraid of the telephone--you're going to get somewhere beyond where you are now. The work may be hard, but so is living with fear. Life is hard, and in this world ye shall have tribulation, but sometimes you can choose your hard. Are you willing to stay in the hard that allows fear to dictate your actions and your thoughts and keeps you corralled where you were never meant to stay? Or do you want to live the hard that means pushing back against fear and continuing on to things you never could have done before? 
Better is possible, and better is so worth the effort.

C) Commit to better, no matter how hard it is.
I am a physician, but in regards to medication or a therapist referral, I can neither make that happen nor assess your need for it over the internet. The part I can talk about here is the hard part. The part that admittedly does sometimes require both medication and a therapist to get through. Sometimes, though, it doesn't. 
Sometimes all it requires if recognizing and remembering that fear is not the response you want in your life, and that all power in the universe belongs to the King of Kings who has made you His child and rescued you from the kingdom of darkness, translating you into the very kingdom of His Son...the kingdom you are to be seeking first. It's a retraining of your thinking, a refusal to sink into patterns that place fear above God. It's a conscious effort to replace fear with the kind of faith that says "Even if I am burned alive I will believe my God is true and my God is good and my God is able to rescue me whether He does or not." 
Sometimes it requires doing the hard things, as many times as is necessary until they're easier. It demands that whenever a thought comes to you pushing you towards anxiety, you immediately replace it with truth, and you get whatever help you need to hold to that truth. It means when you would hold back out of fear, you instead go forward and do the thing that frightens you.

One of the biggest reasons I went to El Salvador was the realization that it was an incredible opportunity and the only reason I had not signed up was fear. Not, actually, fear for my safety, or fear of travel, or fear of people, but fear that I would not do well. That in a setting so different from my comfort zone I would not help, I would not be able to do enough, to do it right. This is one of my biggest fears as a physician, and I knew this trip would push me far beyond my usual second guessing of myself. To be honest? The first day was very, very hard. I had no idea what I was doing and it was completely different from how I want to practice and I was horrified of what I might have done wrongly during the day. But by the fourth day? I understood what resources I had available to me and I did the best that I could with what I had. We helped people. I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity, for every medication we could give and every pain we could soothe. And now that I'm back? Do you know how beautifully comforting a lab value is? How much I appreciate imaging? And how much I want to improve my exam skills and alternative diagnosis skills for the next time? By stepping past what I was afraid of, I was able to help those who would otherwise not have gotten care, and gained a better understanding of what I need in order to help even more people later. This is all besides some of the incredible spiritual conversations, experiences, and growth that came because of the trip - others and myself would have missed so very much if I had listened to fear. 

What things are you missing in your life because of fear? 

via google





5) DSM-V

Monday, February 4, 2019


December and January were as fully full as I expected them to be...which leaves me here in February to do the usual "welcome 2019" post. Which actually works out, because now I can say how it's gone so far. XD

A friend asked me what word I was going to pick for 2019, late in December 2018, and I responded with my usual "I don't know." I don't like to pick a word for the sake of picking a word, or make resolutions which will be shortly broken, but over the past few years, there have been words which I have wanted as the theme of my year - the thing for me to focus on, to try to make part of my life and myself. (See, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. 2018 I never did write up, but it was a perfectly placed direction to simply do. Including the fact that one of my people sent me a very long paragraph on IT'S TIME TO DO, up to and including quoting Yoda, without yet having any idea that the word that had been repeatedly underlined for me for 2018 was do.)

As I tumbled it over in my mind, however, driving in to work on a fairly balmy winter night and trying to ignore the terrifying thought that you're now the senior and responsible for whatever happens to all these patients overnight, and praying my usual prayer of PLEASE GOD, DON'T LET ANYONE CODE TONIGHT, KEEP EVERYONE ALIVE, AHHHHHHHHHHHH, attempting to distract myself by considering words for 2019, what word jumped into my mind? 


Like Sarah, I laughed. I'm trying not to hyperventilate just driving into work...I am terrified by the very thought of the night ahead. How about a word that's not impossible? 

oh, ye of little faith. 

I tried to think of another word.
Fearless was the only one coming to mind. 
Well...maybe I'll pay more attention if there's something about being fearless in my January 1 Scripture reading. (I'm doing YouVersion's 'Read the Bible for Life 4+1' plan, which so far I quite like.)

As I was going to drive in to the hospital again, I hit play on my phone. The first section was read aloud to me while I drove, and I went to turn it off, couldn't find the off button, fumbled with my phone, and then stopped as I heard, "I will not be afraid of 10,000s of people that have set themselves against me round about."

Talk about impossible. Nonsensical, even.

But when I looked up the word for afraid used there...'be afraid, to fear, to revere, emotional and intellectual anticipation of harm, what one feels may go wrong' - but it's also the word used for how we should appropriately fear God. It's I will not be afraid. I will not anticipate harm. I will not dread. I will not reverence, give power, to anything but God. 

To fear a thing is to set it in God's place. To believe that it is more powerful than the God you serve. Perfect love casts out fear - I don't have perfect love, but the God who saved me is love, and what room is there in His presence for fear of anything else?

Guys. I came off of 14 days of struggling daily with fear as the culmination of an entire year of being overwhelmed, and every single night I was forced to deal with one of the things that terrified me. And every single night God was faithful and situations were dealt with and patients were safe and I became a senior resident physician. January 1st a patient coded, and I ran the code and the patient came back to life. I do not hold the keys to death, but God put my hand on the door and our team was able to pull the patient back. 

Over the past month I've dealt with multiple situations, running a team, running more codes (nearly quadrupled the number of codes I'd had intern year in my first month as a senior), and figuring out incredibly difficult patients. Things that would have terrified me last year. And this year...they simple were. I didn't wake up every morning filled with dread, I didn't want to cry when I fumbled a presentation or missed something...I was simply doing the thing that came next and it went well
It wasn't until I realized how easily I was breathing that I fully understood exactly how much I had been allowing myself to dread, to fear, to reverence other things. Last summer a friend told me, "Fear is a spirit and you need to rebuke it," but despite the dramatic picture she painted of Fear on my back trying to strangle me, it didn't fully hit me until living this month. Where I enjoyed going into work, enjoyed seeing patients, enjoyed talking with them and hearing them call me "their doctor", enjoyed working with my team, despite being tired to death, not having time to eat, and honestly feeling too busy to get sick despite I'm pretty sure coming down with a cold somewhere in the middle when I had a 28 hour call (which ended up lasting at least 30 hours...) I was living unafraid and it was glorious.

So. Here's to 2019 as a year of impossible things. Here's to fearlessness. Here's to my eyes on Christ and nowhere else.

If my attitude is one of fear, not faith, then I know nothing of Calvary Love. - Amy Carmichael. 

Even though we must walk in the land of fear, there is no need to fear. The power of His resurrection comes before the fellowship of His sufferings. 
- Amy Carmichael

The truth is we have nothing to fear and nothing to overcome because He is all in all and we are more than conquerors through Him. 
- Oswald Chambers

When you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.
- Oswald Chambers

The earth is enough and the air is enough 
for our wonder and our war
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
and our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable things
'Round an incredible star.
- G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Author Spotlight - Jessica Greyson

because this author just keeps SLIPPING UNDER THE RADAR AND PUBLISHING NEW BOOKS and everyone who does not realize this is missing out. XD

I mentioned this book in my sum-up-2017 blog post earlier this year, and I can't believe it's a year old already, but it's worth mentioning again! I'd been waiting for this book to be published ever since I first heard about the true story that inspired it, and the end result is delightful. The combination of Old West and Jane Austen is so FUN, and Sophie Brown is a grand heroine, predilection for fainting notwithstanding. (Personally, I liked her reaction to things. XD) Jesse is a mess, but he is a fantastic mess, and I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions throughout and found them a hilarious duo. Also, I adore that Jessica Greyson so often brings children into her books, and the way she does it in this story is marvelous.

It's not a fluffy book - it touches on mistakes and regret and learning to trust God despite pain and loss, and there are some aching moments of hurt - but somehow every time I read it what stands out to me is how purely enjoyable this book is. I love Sophie's romantic, book-loving side as well as her no-nonsense deputy side, and Jesse's regrets and self-doubt do not at all negate his burning desire to do the very best that he can to protect those around him and his efforts in that direction, no matter how hard the path he must take. Their story is intriguing, and the book an easy read that pulls you along to the very end.

I think the author's discussion of this book is challenging, and I am incredibly looking forward to the stories she is planning...but Tracking Ruby is a delight to read, and a great addition to any library - and even if it merely gives you a taste of what's ahead, I think you'll find it worthwhile.

This book was more prominently featured on my blog, and I just want to say...I know a great many unmarried Christian women, and I've heard enough testimonies from recently engaged/married girls to know how incredibly tone-deaf they can be. I've heard precious few from women who are single but long to be married, and that is where Jessica Greyson's first non-fiction book comes in. It can easily be read in one sitting or used as a week-long devotional challenge to one's thinking and heart attitudes, while gently assuring you that you are definitely not the only one struggling with missing something so largely outside your own control.
I do not feel like singleness is something I have spent a great deal of time considering or lamenting, but I found myself provoked to consider several things in a new light while reading this book, and so incredibly appreciate Jessica Greyson's openness in sharing her heart here. This testimony is extraordinarily needed, and I recommend it to any young woman, single or married, who is learning to trust God while waiting for something dearly longed-for. Raw and real, this is a book of beautiful encouragement.

Aaaaaaand her most recent book, Enemy Born, which came onto the scene juuuust in time for Christmas. (If you didn't get it for Christmas, I'm so sorry, and book-buying is definitely something that should show up on your New Year's Resolutions, so...)
Another short read, this one comes in somewhere between A Look in the Mirror's painfully beautiful look at our relationship with our Savior and Captive of Raven Castle's fictional weaving of Scriptural themes, while being entirely its own story. It is a dramatic allegory in the vein of Pilgrim's Progress that uses the historical/castle/princess setting that Greyson communicates so easily, while drawing from the gorgeous themes of both the New Testament and the Song of Solomon to illustrate our position and relation to the King of Kings and the Son of God who loved and gave himself for us.
It tells a story I know so very well (and even tried to re-tell myself in the similarly princess/castle/enemy/Prince-themed story of Ransomed), and yet I found myself pausing several times simply to reflect on beloved truths striking me in new ways. The thought of all our God offers beyond and besides salvation from everlasting death and the sheer HORROR of how often we are uninterested caught me hard. How can we be content with so little when the Lord of all Creation and Master of the Universe made it possible for us to know Him? How can we live the surface life, how can we stay at acquaintance level with One who died to draw us close? 

We were literally His enemy, born into the kingdom of darkness, and yet...the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins...and you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

Colossians contains some of my favorite word-pictures about salvation/sanctification, and Enemy Born takes these truths and spins them into a full-blown allegory. The story of a princess who finally understands the truth behind her own and her country's greatest enemy, and the Prince who is willing to take on a traitor's punishment for the sake of the relationship that was originally meant to be...the full and perfect forgiveness offered for enmity and betrayals greater than we understand and the unbelievable love offered to us over and over again are exquisitely brought into sharp relief. 

Cleanly and carefully written, this is a short story that challenged me to to reevaluate the lies that so easily creep in and poison the relationship I could have with both the Father and the Son. Whether this is to you an old, old story or one you have never heard, I recommend stopping to pick up Enemy Born.

On another note, did you know that Sufficient Grace is also available on audiobook? Or that the audiobook version of Annabeth's War is on its way, read by Jessica herself?? I have not listened to an audiobook literally since I was a small child, but I am ridiculously excited about these, and the new audiences that can now be reached by these stories...and if anything is to get me back into listening to might be these. XD

Also, I have to say, I always enjoy seeing her covers, which makes a lot of sense, considering she is a graphic designer. (See:

Which of these are you most excited about? XD
Are there any authors you wish were more in the spotlight?  

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Welcome to December...

And my true start as a senior resident in the critical care section of the hospital...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Book Review - Left Turn to the Promised Land

Isn't that a delightful book title?

It's written by Rachel Starr Thomson, a writer who opened my eyes to the wonder of the internet and made me fall in love with new types of characters, when, as a young teenager, I discovered her story Taerith, written in serial form on a blog. I followed her writing with interest, and when I decided to publish a book while in college and she happened to be making a living editing at the time, I hired her for Ransomed. I received every bit of the insight, guidance, encouragement, and improvement I had hoped for and more besides. I've continued to follow her writing, and every so often will send her a writing or editing question which she has always graciously answered.  (I also interviewed her on this blog way back when.)
This book? It's an autobiographical story of how she miraculously died and came back to life, created a reader audience of 30,000 people in 3 months and earned $12,000 with a single launch, and then very nearly went bankrupt and became incredibly ill and required serious surgery.

It is an easy read in her usual lovely style, and the feel of the writing reminds me, inexplicably, of Maggie Stiefvater's All the Crooked Saints, making it a delight. More, it's a story of God's faithfulness and of what it's like to keep following and to keep believing in that faithfulness when you're sure you've heard His voice and yet nothing is working. I vividly remember bawling in the shower night after night my first few weeks of medical school, knowing each step I had been specifically led, and yet unable to see past the mess in which I now found myself. Rachel Starr Thomson is a writer and a teacher, and her calling is far different than mine at the moment, but the truths in her story are universal, even if the path is not. She writes frankly, without hiding what it feels like to follow through the storm, and that feeling translates easily whether the calling or the storm is the same. Nor does the story end on the cheerful, upbeat note of 'everything was fixed because she did what she was supposed to do' - it ends hopefully, but not falsely, because her story is not yet ended, and she is trusting through the storm still.
I am, to put it bluntly, going to pieces from the stress. I pray. And pray and pray and pray and pray. I try to think clearly, strategize, problem solve. I have a million good ideas, but you can’t do that many things no matter how good they may be, and fear is a terrible driver. Fear does not bring clarity, insight, or strength. It creates a cloud and fills it with buzzing gnats that get in your eyes and your ears...
Part of the mental battle of this year has been the need to understand and embrace a truth: that everything can change in an instant, and sometimes it does. The whole thrust of this season, the message the enemy is trying to bludgeon into my head, is You’re stuck here, nothing ever changes, it’s hopeless and it’s never going to shift. Miracles don’t happen; that’s what this year wants me to believe. And yet, that’s not true.
This year coming to a close has brought so much stress to so many I know, whether friends or family or the patients I have worked with...stress and fear and lies that work together to keep down those who should be victorious, but who instead are struggling to know even what direction they are to turn. In the midst of that, it could be discouraging to read the story of yet one more person brutally beaten down by circumstances as they simply try to obey God...but instead it is a reminder that the Promised Land is real, that the call is true, and that the One who calls is still faithful.

Monday, November 26, 2018

3 Good Things - Day 21

I finish this Thanksgiving weekend glad for the 21 days of purposeful thankfulness, and I hope you enjoyed the randomness over the past 3 weeks, too. XD  I have some more blog posts I want to do in the next few weeks, but given the upcoming business, we'll have to see how far I get!

(1) Christmas. 
I sent a pile of things with my mother today, since I will likely not see anyone over Christmas, which was somewhat bittersweet...but it's so fun to put things together for grandparents and nieces and Christmas is my favorite season and asdf;lajksf;asjkdf;askjdf. XD  IT'S STARTING.

(2) ...the sheer amount of theological thought available to us in this century. 
The fact that we have from Moses to Ravi Zacharias is incredible. I can read a book by a young female blogger or by St. Augustine, and I can read Matthew Henry's commentary on the Bible or look up different translations or use the dictionary to look up the original Greek or Hebrew words. All this, beyond the fact that I have the Bible translated into my own language and can read it freely. Sometimes it's really worth considering the amazingness of that.

(3) Vacation: 
I think as a country we have forgotten how to rest. We live at a constant, frenetic pace and though people chill, lounge, binge-watch shows and browse facebook and pinterest, they no longer entirely understand how to rest

This Thanksgiving my mom took me on a last-minute vacation (complete with me emailing my scheduler that HEY I KNOW THE DEADLINE IS PASSED, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT POSSIBLY LETTING ME HAVE A VACATION DAY THAT FRIDAY AFTER THANKSGIVING?) that she set up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, a little town originally set up as housing for immigrants, where the company founder took work and relaxation and civic duty all with exquisite seriousness. His immigrant boarding house is now a luxury resort, and the business plans literally named "---'s Folly" in the newspapers of the day is now basically a world-wide business empire. 
I of course brought my work computer along, only for technical difficulties to occur which prevented me from even so much as checking my email. That's probably the longest I've gone in an entire year and a half without doing a lick of work. One of the massive leaded windows in the great dining hall
(rules were that the factory workers got a 90 minute lunch break, and they could eat well at the hall provided so long as they ate everything they took
bore the inscription 
Life without industry is guilt, and industry without art is brutality.
In medicine it's hard to mix those two. Especially the art. It's easy to become too exhausted to consciously relax, to consciously rest, and even to consciously seek God. I can "waste time" attempting to "rest" doing a variety of things (from tumblr to mindless web searches), but to purposefully incorporate art into my life in such a way that rest also makes me a better person...that's hard. 

Despite the placement of this song in the story as a whole (I've never watched the whole musical, but I've listened to some of the music, and I've definitely read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde...and while I "get" the scientific draw in what he does, and adore the emotion poured into it by the musical {which I somehow felt was pretty lacking in the book itself}, this is one of those Let it Go songs that is a little messed up)...I still love this song.

This is the moment; this is the day
When I send all my doubts and demons on their way.
Every endeavor I have made ever
Is coming into play, is here and now today.
This is the moment, this is the time
When the momentum and the moment are in rhyme
Give me this moment, this momentous moment;
I'll gather up my past, and make some sense at last.
This is the moment, when all I've done
All of the dreaming, scheming and screaming become one.
This is the day, just see it shine
When all I've lived for becomes mine.
This is the moment, this is the hour
When I can open tomorrow like a flower.
And with my hand to, everything I've planned to
Fulfill my grand design; see all my stars align;
This is the moment, my final test;

Throughout this past month, I've felt a continuous call to renewal. To holiness, to purpose, to the knowledge that my life is not my own and I am bought with a price. That to God belongs all glory and honor and every atom of my past and present and future. It's been coming for a while, but I think this month I finally lifted up my head to listen. I had three separate messages from three different people in about as many weeks emphasizing discipleship, relationship, and the very meaning of Christianity and of answering the call to Follow Me. I've thought again about Chesterton's "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried" and the Moody-associated quote "The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him" and heard second-hand about an Ellerslie minister who says "My answer to God is always yes." I have not yet fully unpacked that statement (what does a life look like, truly, when the answer is always yes? how long will it take me to come to a place where I know God is speaking clearly enough that I can answer yes?), but it's given me a great deal to think about. 

In case you can't tell, my mind is still considering, still turning things over, still contemplating...I don't quite know what I need to say yes to, what I need to do next, what I need to prepare for - I know I'm starting work as a senior and this means everything is that much harder, I have that much more responsibility, and I'm that much closer to becoming a board certified physician able to work on my own in whatever fashion God calls me. It's terrifying, but I've also repeatedly been reminded this month that fear has no place here. This IS where God has called me right now, and perfect love casts out fear. The terror that tries to convince me that failure is inevitable, that mistakes are inescapable, that I will be soon responsible for unnecessary death, that I will never be able to learn all I need to know - this is not of God, but rather an attempt of the enemy to steal my joy, cripple my witness, and set me on a path where "messing up" becomes ever more likely because my eyes are on the waves and not on the One who called me out into this storm. 

Courage, dear heart, eyes on Him.
Steady my hands. Steady my heart. Steady my eyes. So I can see where you are...
This is the moment. 
Every moment. 
Living as a Christian is not about the future, is not about someday-Heaven, it is about this moment now being lived for Christ. Life, whether in industry or art, lived as my life is Christ's.


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