Monday, November 30, 2015

In Everything Give Thanks

out past my front porch

I was sitting here over Thanksgiving, thinking of how very many things I have to be thankful for this year...

~ another year where everyone in my family is alive and relatively healthy, despite sports and car accidents and health issues resulting in doctor visits and the myriad of things that could have destroyed any one of us.

~ the new friendships that have deepened this year...for the old friendships that have continued on...for slipping friendships that have been caught hold of and friends who grab tight when I ask for their hand...for the growing realization that the more I love the more I can love...that love is not a fixed quantity but the more I give the more I have, and that when I love something enough, I will fight for it, difficulties in the way and my natural-born personality be hanged. 

my program site placement, my awesome preceptor, and the fact that God sent me to a place I would not have considered on my own, and yet which has the perfect people in place to guide me as I chose specialty etc. And how brilliantly nice they've all been to me so far.

~ my new church, which is an absolute answer to prayer - I was invited there my first Sunday by a nurse at one of the clinics, and really...I do not remember ever feeling so welcomed at a church. This on top of the fact that the sermons actually challenge and encourage me every Sunday, and I not only write story during the service {I learn best when writing; also I write story really well in church services}, but I also write notes. And the church is very involved in the community and in missionary work. They even have some decent music, which makes it the best church I've been to in quite some time. :)

~ for the beauty that surrounds me...and how lovely it's been to realize that even without my marvelous lake view there are touches of God's glorious creativity everywhere, sometimes in places I'd least expect to see it.

~ for the fact that I passed my step 1 exam and was able to do the program that I wanted and will never have to take that test again and even fighting utterly ridiculous amounts of anxiety and depression God was able to turn my summer around and get me through and teach me a lot of things I really needed to learn. 



But then I thought about that one verse. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

In everything. 

Everything.

Can I be thankful for those horrible weeks this summer, when I dealt with emotions I'd never had to fight like this before? 
   I have been thankful in the past few months, as I've felt far more compassion and understanding for patients dealing with mental health issues than was possible before. And for the pure relief I feel every time that exam comes to mind and I can praise God that I passed it.

Can I be thankful for the challenges ahead of me, for the struggles I face in this particular program? For the struggles I have personally, working to refine my personality into one that can lead and direct and speak, as well as follow and listen? 
    I am beginning to be thankful for this, to joy in the fight and the opportunity, which is kind of a huge first for me. 

Can I be thankful for the unexpected difficulties of friendship, for the dangers involved in allowing another person into one's heart, for the pain of miscommunication? 
     I think, while I enjoy the amazingness of friends allowing me into their heart...as I know certain friendships now are able to handle storms...as I see friendship renewed...I can be thankful even for the fear and the hurt.

Can I be thankful for the health problems that are in my family? 

     This is the one that gave me pause. I can give thanks for the good easily...I can find the good in most situations when I stop and ask God to show it to me. But there are some situations in which there is no good. Situations I haven't discussed on my blog because they have more to do with the stories of others than with my own, and because all the ways that those problems have become part of my story have been negative. Reasons I doubt myself, reasons I am afraid, things I am trying to figure out how to deal with as I grow up and realize there is no fixing them. 
     There are entire books written about whether Biblically we are to be thankful FOR all things, or only IN all things...but here...I've had a very hard time being thankful in this particular aspect of my life. I so very badly wish it had never been. That I could hit 'undo' and make my family be who they would have been without this in their lives. There have been times where if possible I would have wished myself out of existence so that all that went before my birth need not have occurred. Would the lives around me been better if I did not exist? I don't know, but it's probably good for me that there's no way I could have tried it. 
    Yet when I stop to look at it...even in this are things to be thankful for. I can be thankful for the understanding that has been given me...for the empathy I can have with those dealing with similar issues...for the way these things in my family have forced me to expand the circle of those I consider family - for those people more distantly or not at all related to me by blood who have come to mean the world to me...for the way that my writing, always a way to deal with and work through emotions, has been affected...even for how my future has been set up, since I would most likely have made very different choices without this in my life. 
    This is not enough to make me glad about it...too much sorrow and sin and pain has come from it. Yet He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. I don't know what good might come of it in the future...and and even now I can look for the good that has come about, for the good He has already done in our lives.
    It is far easier look at this and cringe, to see the problems that occur daily and wonder WHY lives that could have been so, so much better are wasted and stunted, crippled by factors beyond our control. But His will concerning us is that we give thanks. Not that we question and second-guess and argue this point continuously with Him...{though I will ask for any normalcy I can get} but that we thank Him
    So I thank Him for the strength He has given us...for the support of others...for the circumstances that have allowed us a far, far more glorious life than we deserve, despite how much better we *think* it could have been...for the abilities and knowledge we have that we could have gotten in no other way...and for the love He shows us so that we can continue to trust His goodness.


What unexpected things are you thankful for this year?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Heads Up, my Friends.

Smiley

 Christmas is coming faster than you think. If anyone you know loves books...or you want to make it easier on everyone you know by buying yourself some of the books on your own list...then Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you. From Nov 27 (that’s the day after tomorrow!) through Nov 30th, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale. You can find free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals, and more.
And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping already {how are you that far ahead??}, they’ve got you covered with some freebies Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.> 

Finally, what stories in 2015 are you grateful to have discovered? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?

Because I am backwards, I'm telling you about the Friday sale today. Stay tuned for a thankfulness post in the near future... XD
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Snazzy Snippets

Today I'm joining Alyssa's snippets link-up...thank you, Alyssa! :) 

click the picture to join the link-up!

A snippet without dialogue
or
A snippet featuring a friend/family member
or
A snippet that took FOREVER to write

Me being me...you know I have to ignore at least one 'or' here. Maybe two. XD And I will take this opportunity to introduce my most recent project, which document I saved as The One Who Sleeps. 

To use the very helpful summation a friend sent me after I described the original idea to her, it's a Sleeping Beauty retelling where the fairies are scientists, the gifts are given via genetic engineering, and the sleep is cryogenic. And the prince is a scientist who's going to fix her. 

I may do a more thorough introduction at some point in the future. :D



A snippet without dialogue

Dr. von Straaton grinned, but his blue eyes twinkled beneath his thatch of white hair. Dr. Bridgetta Anderson tossed her head and sent her short braid over her shoulder, but kept herself from rolling her eyes. Her hair was almost as white as his but it was a North European heritage that made it so, not age. He was old enough to be her grandfather, and she was quite conscious of the honor it had been to be chosen alongside him as one of the two Eurocent scientists called together by the UC’s Madame President.
Most couples with infertility—i.e., most couples—underwent treatment privately with their physician. But Madame President had been born post-South Asian arc-disaster—she’d almost lost the election due to concerns over the levels of radiation in her blood. But Sir Vice-President had been second in the polls, second in line for the seat, and she won the election based on her sworn partner’s support.
But, leader of the United Continents or not, she was a woman and she wanted a child. And she and her sworn partner saw it as the perfect opportunity for the shared scientific community they wanted to start.
Dr. Anderson, for one, was thrilled. She had put down the founding of an elite all-continental school for the sciences as the Eurocent’s condition for joining, and Dr. von Straaton had been beautifully hands-off about the entire thing. Madame President had agreed—so long as the project was successful.
She smiled to herself. Project Perfection would succeed. That, of course, was the unofficial title, not one any would flippantly use to either president’s face. But the demands had been very specific. The DNA of Madame President and her sworn partner combined, with all damage from radiation or natural causes removed, all genetic flaws fixed, and every gene pushed to the peak of its potential. Beauty, brains, athletic ability…The Future Needs Perfection was the slogan, and the stated goal of the scientific community gathered in CenSciLabs. 


A snippet featuring a friend/family member

“Answers like that, and you’re in line to awaken the Sleeper.” Kieran McKay grinned at his best friend, Philipa Thakur-Lee, clearly impressed.  The grin disappeared as Mudarris cuffed the back of his head, heavy eyebrows frowning.
“Slang,” the professor said sharply. He gave Philipa a gruff glance the next moment. “He’s not wrong,” he added, and moved on to the next question without ceremony.
Behind the professor’s back, Kieran widened his eyes in accentuated shock. So soon as Mudarris was past, Philipa stuck his tongue out as his friend, but his face was flushing. Mudarris was chary with his praise, and that amount was more that he’d heard before.  



A snippet that took FOREVER to write

This one I'm going with a snippet from Rebel Queen, the sequel to Contract to Time Travel. It took me quite a long time to get the first chapter anywhere near where I want it. And it's still in progress. But decent progress. XD {note that possible spoilers for CTTT will be present in any Rebel Queen snippets I post...rather unavoidable...}

“You will not go anywhere without us.”
Instinct choked the scream in her throat even as [Echo] spun to face the voice, her brain late recognizing it as Kang-Dae’s. He was so close she had to look up to see his face, and she forced her fingers to relax their grip on the chó̱ros.
“Sorry,” he added belatedly, electric blue eyes softening as he seemed to recognized the startle in her.
Petra appeared like a shadow from behind him, his face pale in the dimly lit room. “We were not trying to sneak up on you.”
“I know,” she said, her voice recovering itself at last. “What did you mean?”
“Exactly what I said. May I see it?” Kang-Dae held out his hand, and she slowly placed the chó̱ros on his open palm, shivering slightly.
“Ellian told you,” she said then. Of course they could not stay away any more than she could.
“He was awake when I got home,” Kang-Dae agreed, as if the rest were self-explanatory, and offered the chó̱ros to Petra at the younger chimera’s silent request. There was faint reluctance in the motion, but Petra took it delicately, turning it slowly between his fingers.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

long is the way and hard, that out of hell leads up to light

-John Milton; Paradise Lost

So some time ago I read this post...more recently I read this one. They both talk about something I've discussed numerous times with other writer friends.  From people saying things like, "I do not believe that Christians should be reading or writing such content" (about what I'd consider somewhat minor violence) to articles like Why Christians Should Read Harry Potter (which I view as a rather click-bait-y title), this is a subject people have very strong feelings aboutI've heard multiple takes on the issue, and I'm somewhat curious where you guys fall. 

To frame my own perspective, I admit to getting a little spooked whenever I hear 
the words "All people should" or "All people shouldn't" unless there's a chapter and verse beneath it, and even then I squint my eyes to make sure there's no mis-interpreting of Scripture occurring. There are very few things that all people should do. {Beyond some very clear commands in the Bible that a lot of people seem to conveniently ignore...} When it comes to fiction, I tend to think some people should and some people shouldn't and trying to convince people to go against their conscience is horrendously wrong - but so is forbidding other people to read/watch anything you personally dislike. 

Will the book make you sin? Then don't read it. {Or write it, for that matter.} 

For some people, reading Christian Romance novels tempts them to dwell on particular aspects of romance that they should not be dwelling on in that way or in that time in their life. {For myself, reading Christian Romance novels mostly tempts me to grand annoyance at Christian authors, so I don't read them. *cough* XD} 

Some people find that reading books with swearing in them makes them want to swear. {Considering the amount of swearing I hear in a day-to-day life of working with people, I find it tiresome to then read a book filled with it during my off-time too. I'd rather expand my vocabulary, not read more of what I hear. And I enjoy seeing people creatively work around swearing without giving up realism.} 

As for violence...this is even more variable. Yes, desensitization is a dangerous thing, and no, children should not be exposed to it while they are growing up. But I {and many people involved in similar and dissimilar lines of work} actually need to be desensitized. Gagging/collapsing/freaking out because a patient smells bad or they have maggots in a wound or they are bleeding everywhere or bones are sticking out just isn't a good thing. And my own writing reflects the fact that I spent a lot of time dissecting a dead body, and far more time learning about the horrendous things people do to themselves and to others, so that I can know how to fix them. To hear people say no Christian should read or write such things makes me wonder what world they are living in. It is through reading and writing fiction that I work through the things that come up in real life every day, and if I am not allowed to use that outlet, what exactly am I and everyone else who faces these things supposed to do? Pretend our lives don't actually approach the darkness? Yes, Philippians 4:8 is important. So important - we desperately need those things! But does that mean that we should ignore child abuse, because it is the antithesis of Philippians 4:8? Jesus talked an awful lot about wailing and gnashing of teeth for that to be the meaning of that verse...

What I'm trying to get at is that these things are different person to person. Some things can cause one person to sin and not another. Of course there are other things...for example, I haven't watched Game of Thrones - but I've heard it described as porn, and um...yes. That would probably come under the clear commands of Scripture, despite the numerous Christian defenses I've heard of the show. {Whether or not you can watch it without lusting after someone has nothing to do with the fact that people onscreen are committing sin for money.} But for so much else...have you read the BIBLE lately? It is a book filled with romance and violence and quite a few words I don't use unless I'm quoting. 

And this is what struck me last time I thought through why I write books with darkness in them, and how I sort through how much is too much:

and they shall look unto the earth: and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish: and they shall be driven to darkness

The horror of that…but Oh, how I adore what comes next…

the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined

Interesting how we always seem to start with the second verse…but doesn’t the first make the second all that more amazing? There is so much incredible awesome power behind all this…and so many Christians writers just brush over the Epic beneath…Sometimes it’s frightening, going into that darkness with a story - it’s not safe. It’s scary.

I see authors like Regina Doman wrestling with darker books for decades before publishing them, because they know it’s not safe…and yet oh, the gloriousness of that light when it overcomes the darkness! The horror of the trouble and anguish, the loss in that driving into darkness…evil is terrifying. But then the light shines.

for every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire

The blood and the burning and the chaos of war…

for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…The Prince of Peace

Both those verses start with the same word…and oh, you lose so much when you skip that first For! How much more powerful is that Child’s Name as Prince of Peace, when you look up from the battle, worn and weary and bleeding and sick to death of the torment you endure, and there He is, glory and beauty and Peace at a price too great too imagine! Your salvation is at hand. And how much more does that mean when you know your desperate need for it?

Not everyone can read darkness. Just as not everyone can continue in particular lines of work. {The burn-out time for health care workers in hospice care is five years. People can only handle so much grief.} But I get the sense that so many Christians want to jump straight to the second portion of both those verses above. {How many times have you heard for every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood read aloud at Christmas?} But Paradise was lost, and the way before us is long and hard until we return. Some of us must confront that darkness, must know how to wrestle with it, how to fight it, how to bring the light to it. 

I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light. ~John Keith Falconer

The darkness is here. To read/write it or not does not change that fact. We each have one candle, and some are to burn theirs to ensure that a land stays flooded with light, while others are to enter the darkness and bring whatever light they can to it.


Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness. Anne Frank 

It requires carefulness and prayer, and if you do read or write darkness, I hope it is to define and to defy it with light. To lead up to light in whatever you do. To point to the Prince of Peace, the true Light, that all men might believe.

Monday, October 12, 2015

New Things


I am off, my friends. After living on the shores of this gorgeousness and going to school in the same town for 5 years, I have moved. 

For the next 9 months, Lord willing, I will be working in two rural communities (multiple hospitals and clinics) and completing my surgery, pediatrics, family medicine, family medicine subspecialty, emergency medicine, and rural elective rotations in those locations. I've been posting a bit more on here recently; I don't know how much time I'll have in the future. But I thought it would be fun to show you the little place I'm renting for the next 7 months. (Not sure where I'll live the last 2. I'll figure it out before then. Hopefully. XD)

My new view: 
{Because that is very important.}


My new baby kitchen: 


{Errr...how much time will I have to be cooking...? Who knows. I've already invited a family of 4 over, though, so...I guess I better plan on a little bit. And I might move some of these greens around so there's not quite so many shades in one spot...hmm...}

My new de-stressing necklace hanger:

{I miss my awesome necklace tree. But I just don't have the room here. That said - pounding 51 nails into a 2x4 is really enjoyable, even when you have major issues with straight lines. You should try it.}

My new bed:

{So happy to be out of twin bed you don't even know you guys. That's what happens when you get a double bed as a 2-year-old. I've rolled over and hit the wall so many times the past few years... XD}

My new bookshelf:

{"When are you going to read all those books???" my mom asked. "I'm not." I said. "But houses need books. I have to see them there and know they are a possibility."}

My new bathroom:

{lol. but I really like how my quote corner turned out. There's jut no room in the rest of the cabin for them, and I can't mess up the walls with tape or nails. Sooo...quotes go in the bathroom. XD}

My most recent creation:

{It was lovely fun to make. :) I have to exercise both sides of my brain to keep it all working, clearly. XD}


My new arrangement of earrings/cuffs: + guardian hedgehog


Maybe I'll get to tell you a little bit about what my weeks actually look like once I have some idea. XD At this point I'm not planning on spending a whole lot of time actually in this place, I will say that. :) 

What's the next new thing happening in your lives?



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