Category Archives: Life

I Want to Be Like Me When I Grow Up

I don’t recall someone ever saying that. In fact, this is the first time I’ve strung those ten words in that particular order. I’ve always used someone else in place of “me,” whether it’s one of my parents, a famous person, or someone who chose to do something I consider extraordinary or worthy of respect — perhaps even awe.

“I want to be as successful as that person someday.”

“I want to be as kind and generous as that person someday.”

“I want to write like that person someday.”

The list is endless, and we’ve all said something similar. To the point it’s cliche.

I’ll bet the people we admire, and who we believe have reached the pinnacle of what we deem as the perfect life, have likely said the same thing at some point in their lives. Mentors have their own mentors, and heroes have their own heroes.

Don’t get me wrong. We need heroes, mentors and leaders, because they more often than not inspire us to reach further toward our own dreams and desires. The downside of that, however, is inspiration can twist into envy and jealousy. We can pay so much attention to those we admire, we soon reach the realization that we can never be who they are. In that, we will fail, because we are not them, and never will be.

I am me the same way you are you. No one can be me anymore than I can be you. We can have similar dreams and aspirations, but the similarity ends there. How I reach my goal will be far different from how you reach yours. Our sucesses and failures will be as unique as our DNA.

What brought this thought about was reading an entry by an author I admire. His words seemed to flow off the page (screen), and I thought, “Why can’t I write like that? To have his wisdom, and eloquence?”

Then I remembered something I had written decades ago: Selling Me Short

Adding to that:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

Psalms 139:13-18

God made me the way he did for many reasons, not just one. His gifts to me are for specific purposes that no one can steal, copy, or take over.

The reverse is also true. I can’t steal, copy or take over anyone else’s gifts or life goals. Or their successes. I must always be cognizant of what inspires me, and avoid the too-easy twist into envy, because doing so ignores and can possibly destroy the dreams God has made for me. In the end, I fail at being me — the way God meant for me to be.

The same is true for you, so go out there and strive to be you when you grow up.

To Men

I thank you.

To the man who changed my tire in the Target parking lot, and refused to take money for doing it.

To the many tall men who happily take items from the top shelves this short woman can’t reach.

To the many men who open the door for me, and do it with a smile.

To the young photography teacher who gave me a helping hand as I struggled to crawl up a river bank, and carried my camera and tripod at the same time.

To all men who adopt their wife’s children, and love, provide and protect them as their own.

To all men who teach their sons and daughters how to be just as strong, wise, and protective of others as they are.

To the many men who have saved strangers from being abducted or otherwise harmed from criminals, and never considered the danger they put themselves in for doing so.

To all men who put their lives on the line for their fellow citizens such as the military, law enforcement, and other first responders.

*Disclaimer: I do not intend to minimize or ignore the women who do all of the above. Not at all, because they also deserve our thanks. With all the nasty accusations against all men based on the bad behavior of a few, however, I believe men deserve their own moment, and to show just how much many, many of us love and appreciate men for what they do, and who they are.

So once again, Men, I thank you.

I know I missed many other wonderful things men do, whether asked for or not. So by all means add them here, or post them elsewhere.

My Beautiful Crutch

I’m attending an interesting Bible study on Wednesdays at my church.

Atheism came up in the conversation last night, and someone said how an atheist friend once told him, “People use religion as a crutch.”

I’ve heard that before, too. Then it occurred to me. Yes, religion — faith — is a crutch.

And that’s a good thing.

Would we tell someone with a broken leg to not use crutches to get around, or a paraplegic to not use his/her wheelchair? That would not only be idiotic, but insulting. Perhaps even cruel.

Just as anyone injured or handicapped can’t move around and be independent without their physical aids, people of faith can’t function at their best — be independent — without depending on God.

It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? How does one live independently while depending on God?

Part of faith in God is admitting we’re weak. We don’t have all the answers, we can’t control everything, sometimes not even ourselves. That’s a tough one to admit, because especially here in the States, we are taught that we can control our destiny. We have so many choices whether it’s who we marry, who we associate with, schools, colleges, and career choices to name but a few.

Yet we can’t control when we get a cold, if we’ll contract a fatal disease, if someone decides to commit a crime against us, runs a red light and injures us, nature’s wrath, when our loved ones pass, when a friend breaks a trust, the list is near infinite.

Faith teaches us that control is an illusion. It teaches us that control is not what brings us hope, joy or courage. It’s God, and the decision to depend on him and his wisdom instead of our own flawed, human understanding of the world around us and beyond.

For instance, without my faith, I wouldn’t have had the courage to broach a difficult subject which resulted in the birth of our son (long story, that. I’ll tell it another time).

Without depending on God, I wouldn’t have the courage to write this entry, let alone seek an agent for my full-length novels.

So, yes, God is my crutch, and I shout it proudly.

He’s my unfailing, beautiful crutch.

Sky Wizards and Flying Spaghetti Monsters

I have a few friends who are not only atheists, but are outright hostile to any belief in a higher power.

More than once, I’ve heard them describe God as a “Sky Wizard,” or “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” Even as a Christian, I find those descriptions humorous, even though they’re designed to insult. The latter one is my favorite.

To a person who doesn’t believe God does — or even can — exist, to pray to a non-existent entity is beyond foolish. It gives an individual’s power away, and — according to them — is used as an excuse to not act so that they can be their own answer to prayer.

For instance, someone might pray for healing. The atheist assumes that by praying, the person isn’t seeking medical help for that healing. And if they are healed, that person should be giving the doctors credit, not some imagined creature who lives in the sky.

I’ve seen people complain how so many are praying for those harmed by the latest hurricanes and western state forest fires. They assume that since those people are praying, that’s all they’re doing. They’re accused of thinking God is going to wave his magic wand and fix everything, and those praying don’t have to do anything themselves to help.

First off, that’s false, because I know many who have prayed, but have also sent money, goods, and even gone down there to help. So, yes, we are often our own answers to prayer.

I and many others have also seen miracles that can’t be explained by science, but that’s an entry for another time.

And what about the times God doesn’t answer our prayers? Doesn’t that alone prove he can’t exist?

Truth is, God is not Santa Claus, nor is he a genie. He knows what’s best for us a lot more than we do. I have prayed for many things when God said no, and in looking back, I’m so glad he did. I could give plenty of examples, but that would make this entry too long.

Prayer is also not just about what we receive, especially when it comes to the material, whether it’d be our finances or our health. Prayer changes us, because we’re open to not only the possibilities, but it’s also our best way of communicating with God, and building a relationship with him. Every relationship we’ve ever had, and ever will have, changes us. Sometimes for good, sometimes not. With God, however, it’s always for our good, even if we sometimes hate him for it. For a time. Or maybe that’s just me . . .

Wouldn’t you get annoyed if the only time a person came around was to ask for something? Pretty soon, you wouldn’t answer the door anymore. But if that person also tried to build a relationship with you, and not ask for something in return every time, then you’d be more inclined to help when they are in need. I don’t think God is much different.

All of this, however, will fall on deaf ears to those who refuse to believe God exists, and that he cares enough to want to build a relationship with us. They first have to consider the possibility before it becomes a possibility.

For instance people used to believe the world was flat. Based on their experience such as looking at the ground and the horizon, it’s flat. Therefore, the earth is flat.

Yet some considered the possibility that the world was round, and then set out to prove it, such as Christopher Columbus. For him, the idea — the possibility — came before he could step onto his ship to seek out proof.

That’s how faith started for all of us believers in God, aka The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Limiting Idiocy

My son started the 4th grade, and soon he will have the opportunity to try out extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, band, drama, etc. I want him to try them all. Not because I want to live vicariously through him since I took advantage of none of them growing up, however. Grade school is the best opportunity for children to discover what they’re good at, what they’re not good at, and what they will enjoy enough to work hard and excel at.

For instance, in school I learned how good I am at English and math. Life sciences such as biology, and organic chemistry, not so much. Without taking advantage of all those classes available to me, I never would have discovered any of it, and I wouldn’t have the focus I do now on continuing to improve my writing, and having a career where I get to work with numbers every day.

I want my son to live a life as joyful and fulfilling as I do. One way he can discover his gifts and limitations early on is to try as much as he can while those opportunities are readily available to him.

“Half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at.” — David Gerrold

Making Excuses

“Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.” — Jules Renard

I’ve already described — for some of you, incessantly — how much writing is an outlet that keeps me sane.

As the quote above also notes, writing gives me an opportunity to hash out my strange and almost incomprehensible thoughts to make them less strange and more comprehensible, with plenty of time to figure it out before I decide to share it.

As I started this entry, my first thought was how this would end up a repeat of other entries, and I don’t like to repeat myself.

So how do I look at the quote a little differently?

Human beings, for the most part, like comfort, and the familiar. We seek them out, sometimes at great expense, whether it be spending less time with family, or risking our physical and mental health. Seems kind of silly when looking at it that way. Isn’t comfort supposed to allow us to relax, to not have to worry about things? Yet we worry and fret over not being comfortable enough.

I’m not a risk-taker. Like I wrote in my previous entry, it’s due to learning early on in life to weigh all potential consequences of my actions before I make them. I suppose in some ways, I’ve stifled myself from experiencing more.

Then a question popped in my head: Do I use my natural inability to express myself except through writing as an excuse not work harder to express myself in other ways? Am I, figuratively-speaking, hiding in a closet out of fear of making a fool out of myself, or hurting someone with my spoken words?

Aside: My husband and I decided to change our diet: Less processed foods and more meat, fruits and vegetables. Without all that refined sugar and bread, my body is screaming at me for torturing it so. So it turns around and tortures me with cravings for the very things my body doesn’t need. Supper, when will you be ready?

I feel like Audrey II from the movie “Little Shop of Horrors” when it yells, “Feed me!” In song form. Except I’m not singing . . .

Okay, back on track. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Hiding in figurative closets.

I need to start exercising my voice, so I can create neural pathways between my mouth and brain. Like building any muscle, that can only be accomplished through practice. Lots of it.

If I am to see my books published, and sold successfully, I need to go out in the world to market them. That will inevitably require rubbing elbows with people face-to-face such as at book signings. It’s a scary prospect, but a necessary one.

Who knows, by practicing now when it won’t cost me anything I may become — if not expert — certainly competent with talking out loud without fear of stumbling all over myself and being misunderstood.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” — 2 Timothy 1:7

Define Freedom

Today’s writing devotional asks what freedom means to me.

I didn’t want to tackle this question. Still don’t really, but to write is to explore. That includes exploring the darker, scarier places, whether they be in the mind or our surroundings, and to explore what makes us uncomfortable.

I don’t want to discuss what freedom means to me, and to me alone, because then it’s a matter of opinion only. I prefer facts to opinion, unless that opinion is informed with facts. That includes my own.

Yet I don’t want to cut and paste the Webster’s definition of freedom and call it a day. Your time is worth more than that.

I look to every controversy and question today’s society asks through two specific lenses: The importance of the individual and my Christian faith.

To define freedom I look to those two perspectives.

I didn’t get into trouble (much) growing up. I did far less than what my mom expected of both my sister and me. My mom said it was due to both of us having a strong sense of self-interest. Not selfishness, but in taking care that whatever we did wouldn’t have an adverse affect on our health and safety. We made mistakes, certainly, but nothing serious or permanent.

I boiled it down to something my mom told me when I was an early teen: “You can do whatever you want, but you will accept the consequences for them.”

Because my mom gave me the freedom to choose my actions, it put the fear of God into me (to use a phrase both literally and figuratively). Her words made me stop to consider what possible consequences I could face before, and not after I acted. It also meant my parents would not protect me from those consequences. They were my sole responsibility.

That’s what freedom truly is — not only the ability to decide our actions, but the necessity of accepting the consequences and responsibility for those actions.

My faith works the same way. God will not always stop me from making both good and bad choices, but he does expect me to take responsibility for them. He saved my soul, certainly, but he won’t always save me from the workings of this world. My actions are still my own, the consequences mine to accept, and I am to blame no one for them except me.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” — Galatians 6:4-5