a cautionary blogging tale (Intro)

This time of year has been particularly difficult for me for a couple of years now. Anyone who watches my tweet stream can pretty much figure that out.

I get asked questions about this frequently, and so I’ve finally decided to share. Some people will call me mean-hearted and say I’m just looking for a catfight. Others may secretly nod, because they’ve been through something similar at some point. Still others already have a sense of what it’s about and will silently pray that I will finally move on.

I think on some levels, it makes people uncomfortable.

Holy heck! It makes me uncomfortable!

And honestly, I’ve struggled with how, and if, to share this story.

I’ve always looked at people who wallow and can’t get over something and half-pitied and half wanted to smack them.

But I’ve become that person. The one who can’t move on. Who can’t forgive. Who is bitter. Who is a victim.

I never wanted to be any of those people. I don’t want to be any of those people.

I’d already successfully dealt with that on a separate issue. And I’d tried to deal with this one, shortly after it happened. I have struggled with thoughts that I am the worst sort of Christian – the sort who points fingers and doesn’t examine themselves. A Pharisee.

So I’m going to tell my tale, once and for all. But I’m going to (try to) tell it, not as an exposé, but from a point of self-examination. A cautionary tale. Because, I think that in examining the situation more closely and trying to figure out why it hurt so much, I’ve come to an unexpected conclusion that surprised me. One that others might look at and realize that there is something in their own life that they need to side-step and move beyond.

All I’m trying to do is share, just like I once used to do. Some parts will be vague, for obvious reasons. Other parts will seem blatantly obvious. There is no other way to tell it.

Stay tuned…

(part 2)

Sojourner

(Please ignore my unfinished, unorganized, undecorated mess… I just feel the need to write, and it’s overriding my usual desire to not let anyone visit my house unless it’s “just right”…)

So I’ve been on a journey of sorts for the last 14+ months. Oh heck. Who am I kidding — I’ve been on a journey all my life. We are all on a journey; sometimes we get sidetracked from the journey, or get too comfortable with where we are and stay in the same place for a long long while. Or we just flat-out forget that that we were headed somewhere. Or looking for something. We are no longer excited about what is around the next bend. “I’ll just sit on this bench and rest a little while, thankyouverymuch.”

Regardless of why mine stopped (that is a post that may never be published), I finally picked my journey up, albeit with shaky nerves, wobbly knees and little confidence.

All that to say: I’ve been reading a book. Don’t laugh. It had been awhile. It’s hard to find the time to read when you are doing things like, oh I don’t know… trying to survive. And even though my circumstances are now different and I’m no longer treading water, there are relationships, business, and kids, and the house, and OH.MY.WORD The Laundry! Reading a book is a luxury these days. I love to read. I especially love to read about other people’s journeys.

So I started with something light, fluffy and easy*

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

I’ve read this book before, but I’m reading it again with different eyes. When it first came out, it was quite the controversial book in some of the circles I ran with. To the point where I was almost afraid to read it. I finally read it for myself. It’s not without flaws, but he’s not claiming to be a schooled theologian.

I’d love to just post the entire book on here for you to read, but then the copyright attorneys would be banging on my door. And I don’t think they’d appreciate my “But I love my Internetz” excuse… Plus, Donald Miller seems like a cool guy (<— for those of you who have read the book, this is a play on a part of it) and deserves to make any profits from it. So go to the library and check it out or click on the link above and get your own copy.

Until you get your hands on it, enjoy some of these thoughts. And share yours with me in the comments.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book (so far; I’m sure there will be a part 2 to this post)

From Chapter 5, Faith: Penguin Sex:

Love, for example, is a true emotion, but it is not rational. What I mean is, people actually feel it. I have been in love, plenty of people have been in love, yet love cannot be proved scientifically. Neither can beauty. Light cannot be proved scientifically, and yet we all believe in light and by light see all things. There are plenty of things that are true that don’t make any sense… (God) doesn’t (make sense). He will make no more sense to me than I will make sense to an ant. (p. 54)

From Chapter 7, Grace: The Beggar’s Kingdom:

(I realized) I was too proud to receive God’s grace, I was humbled. Who am I to think myself above God’s charity? And why would I forsake the riches of God’s righteousness for the dung of my own ego? (p. 85)

From Chapter 8, gods: Our Tiny Invisible Friends:

I felt as if believing in God was no more rational than having an imaginary friend. They have names for people who have imaginary friends, you know. They keep them in special hospitals. Maybe my faith in God was form of insanity. Maybe I was losing my marbles. I start out believing in Christ, and the next thing you know I am having tea with the Easter Bunny or waltzing with my toaster, shouting, “The redcoats are coming!” (p. 87)

From Chapter 9, Change: New Starts at Ancient Faith:

I said to a guy the other day ‘God bless you’, but what does that mean? I have been saying that stuff all my life, but what does it mean? Then I started thinking about all the crap I say. All the cliches, all the parroted slogans. I have become an infomercial for God, and I don’t even use the product. (p. 97)

From Chapter 10, Belief: The Birth of Cool:

I don’t think any church has ever been relevant to the culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supporsed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. It us just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothings.(p. 111)

From Chapter 11, Confession: Coming Out of the Closet:

(this is such a good one, and it’s long, and I wish I could just type it all out…)

Upon being asked to defend Christianity and telling the questioner (a radio host) he couldn’t:

Of the hundreds of thousands of people listening to his show that day, some of the had terrible experiences with Christianity; they may have been yelled at by a teacher in a Christian school, abused by a minister, browbeaten by a Christian parent. To them, the term ‘Christianity’ meant something that no Christian I know would defend. By fortifying the term, I am only making them more and more angry. I won’t do it. Stop ten people on the street and ask them what they think of when they hear the word “Christianity”, and they will give you ten different answers. How can I defend a term that means ten different things to ten different people?… “I would rather talk about Jesus and how I came to believe that Jesus exists and that He likes me.” (my emphasis)

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality **

*Yeah, that’s sarcasm…

(**disclosure: the Blue Like Jazz links above are affiliate links on Amazon.com. If you purchase the book, I receive a portion of the sale. Which is kind of like a tip in a jar, no?)

Those evil beauty shops

This afternoon, I was catching up on the newspapers from the past few days and came across an article that is just swirling through my head and I can’t shake it.

The heading simply stated: Iraqi beauty salons forced underground with the subheading extremists target salons, viewing them as western corruption.

Women are not allowed to look beautiful in public, according to hard lined, Muslim extremists. Therefore, beauty salons have been lumped into the category of evil, along with liquor stores, barber shops and Christian churches.

Read the article in its entirety here.

Careful: doing this in Iraq could have you killed.

NaBloPoMo is here!

So… some of you were very helpful… and some of you… ‘eh, not so much ;-) (Please feel free to add on to my topics for the month — see this post for more info regarding my request)

Here is a list of 13 topics I have for NaBloPoMo, so far:

  1. How my husband and I met
  2. When I became a Christian
  3. The most embarassing thing that has ever happened to me
  4. How I became a blogger
  5. My favorite food and why
  6. The story of my husband delivering Seamus
  7. The story of Abbie and Quinn’s delivery (G-rated!!)
  8. How I’d spend 1 million dollars
  9. How and where Sean and I spent the first year of marriage
  10. My testimony
  11. Why our bank account was emptied out without our knowledge
  12. How things are going on my list of goals
  13. My plans for going back to school (yes, you read that correctly; NOT in the teaching capacity, but as a student)

Again – please feel free to give me any questions about things you’d like to know.

Some of my favorite Christian fiction novels

Awhile back, my friend Beck, at Frog and Toad are Still Friends, lamented the lack of good Christian fiction. I took issue with her comment and promised her a list of excellent Christian authors and books I have read. It took me a little bit of forever to write up interesting descriptions for them all… I’m just not good at that sort of thing. Obviously, my personal list of descriptive words is rather limited.

Since it took so much time to write it up, I decided to share my list with all of you.

Aren’t you lucky!

I’m not into all of the mushy, sappy icky type reading. I like things that are either suspenseful (including supernatural) or very real and relate-able. I also like books that are just fun reads.

So here are some of the Christian authors and their books that I have read and love! Please, oh, please, keep in mind that I am not very good with descriptions. So, if my description sounds painfully pathetic to you, don’t discard it! I’ve also linked to the book info and the author’s websites. Several of the sites allow you to read excerpts and or chapters.

Ted Dekker
His books are intensely spiritual and supernatural. There is always a mystery; some times there is gore. But it all has deep Godly undertones. He has a series called the Martyr’s Song (see here) that blew me away. I loved all of his books (here is the listing at Amazon.com) and can’t recommend them enough. He has an intense love for the Lord. Several of his books either already have been made into movies or are in the works.

Frank Peretti
His style is a lot like Ted Dekker’s. In fact, they collaborated on a book together. Supernatural, spiritual warfare. Awesome books.

Angela Hunt
I think that her books are pretty relate-able. They sometimes have some sort of romantic-interest thing going on, but it’s never anything goofy or annoying or even a significant part of her books.
I loved The Debt, The Awakening, The Pearl, The Canopy, The Note and Unspoken. I have gotten behind in her books – she has so many come out in the past year. One of the things I like is that they tend to deal with ethical topics that we are faced with in our society.

She also wrote a series that I LOVED, called The Island of Heavenly Daze. The characters reminded me a lot of the characters in Steel Magnolias. But since it is set in a New England type setting, without the southern accents. It is a 5 book series and it was sweet and funny.

Charles Martin
His books blow me away. Being from the Southern US may have something to do with it… his books are set in the south. But they are very well-written and also intense and emotional. The characters stay with you – very haunting books. I’ve also gotten behind on his books and have only read The Dead Don’t DanceMaggie and Wrapped in Rain. All of his book links on his site have a link where you can read the first chapter of the books.

Kathryn Mackel
I’ve only read 2 of her books, but they dealt with some great topics. I read The Surrogate and The Departed.

Colleen Coble
I’ve only read the Rock Harbor series. It is set in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan and they are suspenseful and the characters are very real. Her website seems to tout the romance side of the stories. Maybe some are… but the series I read wasn’t a hugely romantic storyline.

Rene Gutteridge
I’ve only read the “Boo” (Boo, Boo Who, and Boo Hiss) series. But it is a hoot. She writes different styles of stories too. I just haven’t read them yet.

Robert Whitlow
His books are mainly law books, in the style of John Grishom. I found them fascinating and have loved all of his books.

Some random books that I’ve read and enjoyed:

At the Scent of Water
by Linda Nichols

Ghosts – The story of a reunion
by Adrian Plass

Again, I will remind you that I stink at giving descriptions of things. It was a pure struggle to write anything beyond “I liked this here book… It was good… read it…”

Let me know if you ever get around to reading any of these books and what you think of them.