Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Appalling Pastor

I usually don't stomp on my religious soapbox unless something is weighing heavy on me.

Today, I got a taste of pure hatred when I viewed a YouTube video that has gone viral--a pastor (if you want to call him that) in North Carolina ranting on about homosexuals and what he would like the government to do to them. I was appalled. Maybe you've seen it. I won't go into details, you can pull it up on YouTube yourself. The words spoken sent chills down my spine. I think for the first time I experienced something akin to the horror the people in Europe felt the first time they heard Adolf Hitler rant about the Jews. What this pastor (again, the word used loosely here) said he would like to do to gays and lesbians brought tears to my eyes and made my skin crawl.

All I could think about was the love of God, that He is the judge of sin, and only He determines what is sin and what is not. Not us. Not any pastor. Or anyone who calls himself a pastor.

I like to quote Pastor Matt Idom from 1/28/2011 in his online post entitled, Worshipping God, not the Bible. He said, "We preachers are notorious about moving in and out of scripture like it is some worn out back door, ever struggling with the temptation to use it to prove a point or leverage a position ..."

An old hymn we used to sing in Sunday school has been running through my head all day. It's by Frederick M. Lehman, 1917.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
and reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure--
The saints' and angels' song.

This next verse was penciled on the wall of a narrow room in an insane asylum by a man said to have been demented. The profound lines were discovered when they laid him in his coffin.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Through stretched from sky to sky.

I think that old buzzard in North Carolina who calls himself a pastor is going to be shocked someday at who really makes it to Heaven.

Just my humble opinion.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Social Media ... When To Say It's Enough!

My brain is bleeping Tilt! Tilt! I'm on overload wondering how many "HOW TO BE THE BEST BLOGGER EVER" BLOGS are on the Internet? Clicking on the ever-popular HOW TO BLOG blogs gives me a headache.

Ten tips on how to know the five reasons why you can't blog about those twelve things ... Lordy.

I've been blogging since 2005, essentially for myself. I blog on what matters to me. Writing, family, friends, the publishing industry, religion, my home, my children, what's bothering me, televangelism, what I love, writing ...

Lately, I've been reading blogs that are solely about writing, publishing, editing, marketing your work and I find that after a while ... they begin to repeat themselves. In my case, I'm not blogging just to writers, I'm blogging to readers. Not all readers want to know about query letters, how to land a publishing contract, and polishing a manuscript.

I guess I'm not consistent. That doesn't make me a bad person.

Some of my blogs speak to the writer. Some to the reader. And then, some speak directly to me. For the most part, I write what's weighing heavy on my mind. It comes out easier that way. I'm not searching my brain for every little sentence. I suppose if I followed the "rules" I might collect a few more readers. Possibly. And if I downloaded pretty pictures or trolled for guest bloggers, I might get a little more attention. It's fine if that's what you want on your blog, but what if it's not?

Does that make me a bad person? What's wrong with simplicity?

Here's the kicker: Social media is overwhelming. Today's writer is competing against enormous odds. Twitter and Facebook and the rest are necessary to the writer's platform. And really, even after a morning online, you're never quite sure you've appeased that Social Media Monster. We can spend hours and hours on the Internet, posting, blogging, building relationships, wondering if it's ever enough all while our manuscripts are languishing.

The key to knowing when it's enough is within you. I get edgy. I can feel it's enough when the irritation begins to build. When I'm watching the clock and thinking about a new character for the next chapter in my story. Self discipline and time management plays a part, sure, but it's more than that because in reality, ALL of it is important. What is most important to you? A simple question but do we ask ourselves--are we becoming Facebook/Twitter junkies? I had to learn where to draw the line as a writer. When to say ... enough. And just maybe you do, too.

By the way, did you watch the Hatfields & McCoys on the History Channel last night? It was awesome.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why I Wrote The Book

Book Expo America will kick off in New York City in two weeks. I'll be there, signing Advanced Reading Copies of Televenge, on Wednesday, June 6, from 1 to 2 pm. There is no way to describe this feeling. A novel I've been writing forever, it seems, is about to debut. Throughout the years, I've been blogging about it. Hoping, praying, and clawing my way forward.

It's not been an easy road, although I didn't expect it to be. I often think about the character Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption who clawed his way through a mile of sewer pipe to reach his ultimate goal. Fighting against all odds, he eventually made it through the stench of that pipe to freedom.

It's been twenty-four years since I left my church. This book began as thoughts and sentences way back then. First as journal entries, and then in bursts of dialogue, short stories, and a rather long outline. Finally, after a lot of healing, I began to write the novel in 2002.

By the time I took the manuscript to a week-long Breakout Novel Writing Intensive with Literary Agent Donald Maass in 2005, it was over 1,200 pages long. Can you imagine? After seven more years of rewriting and some rather severe editing, the book is about to see the light.

I did not write this book specifically for the Christian audience, or to criticize or attack preachers. I'm a storyteller. My first objective was to write a great story. Televenge reflects the realities, the long-lasting devastation, and the horrific effects of legalism. I also wrote Televenge help myself heal completely; to show that pastors are human, to encourage others struggling in dogmatic churches to share their stories, hold their pastors accountable, and save their families from ruin.

This book is not about me. It's not my story. It's many stories that came together to become Andie's story. A story of hope, of deliverance, and strength of the human spirit. An unforgettable tale of unconditional love, heartbreaking loss, an invincible spirit, and incredible courage. Televenge will inspire countless conversations for years to come.

Everyone deserves unconditional love and no individual should settle for less. For those who have left a manipulative situation or are thinking about it, I want them to know no matter how desperate their circumstances they can come out of a dark place and into a life that is calling their name.

And that is why I wrote the book.

The book will be released on October 8, 2012. It is currently available for preorder on where you can read the synopsis. I'm very proud of the work that's gone into it, and of the people in my life who came together to get it published. I've been very blessed.

I'll be launching the book to the book buying community in June. I've never felt so excited in my life.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bra Shopping

I went shopping yesterday.

I hate shopping.

I'm not a shopper. At all. Not for clothes, shoes, or groceries. It's a necessary evil in my mind. Not sure what kind of a woman that makes me. But yesterday, I went to Dillards and had a professional "bra fitting." Dear God in Heaven.

So with a tsk of her tongue, Miss Saleslady stuffs me into this bra that "fits perfectly," she says. I sigh and say, "Okay. I'll take it." I've never paid so much for a bra in my life. Since when did undergarments begin costing so much? $70.00 for a dang bra! And then she has the nerve to ask me if I want to buy more than one?

Ugh. No thanks.

When I get home, I decide to wear it around the house just to get the feel of it. I mean, I'm not used to that kind of support. I've been wearing Walmart bras for the past ten years. You know the kind I mean. Soft, white, just enough support that you're not jiggling all over the place, no underwire, the kind of bra you can throw in the washer and dryer and forget about. After all, it was ten bucks after the "rollback" price. Good enough for me.

So I've got on this 70.00 bra and I'm sweating. I feel like I'm in a straight jacket, or wrapped in a corset from 1890. After about twenty minutes the underwires are not only cutting into my side, they're hurting my underarms. The four clasp closure in the back is scratching my back and now I'm getting pissed off. How the heck did somebody talk me into paying $70.00 for something that feels so horrible. I don't give a rat's patutie how high and tight it holds the girls. I need a little comfort with my support. Not torture!

I rush downstairs, pull the Dillards bag and sales receipt out of the trash, and quickly take the bra off.

Ahhhhhh. (C'mon ladies, you know the feeling!)

This over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder is going back to Dillards after I head to Walmart for milk, eggs, cheese, and a new bra.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The FACEBOOK Monster

My good old blog. I feel like hugging it this morning.

I remember the days when it was so much simpler. Getting up in the morning, taking my coffee to the computer. All I had to do was flip through a few emails and write an occasional new blog.

Not anymore.

Now, there's Twitter that can hold you hostage for about a half-hour, and Shelfari, and Goodreads, and Pinterest, and this Library thing I'm on, and then there's the big monster. FACEBOOK. If I'm not careful, I can waste the whole morning. Do we really need to touch base with all this social media every dang day? I don't even talk to my mother or my grown children every day!

And for cryin' out loud, there's thousands of links and sites that can take you off in forty-eleven directions ... mostly on how to "better utilize" FACEBOOK. It's becoming a love/hate relationship for me very quickly. I love connecting with new and old friends. But it seems FACEBOOK has barred me from new friends for seven days since they received "complaints" that "I've made numerous attempts to befriend the same people." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? If you've received more than one request from me to become my "friend" it wasn't from me. I ain't beggin' ya. Ya know? C'mon! I'm not that desperate. Believe me.

But I feel like FACEBOOK has sent me to the corner with a dunce cap on my head.

Frankly, I'm taking a few days off from the FACEBOOK monster. I feel so green sometimes. I do love people, and I really do like making and getting reacquainted with friends. But I don't like being accused of something I'm not doing. And of course, there's no way to complain to the Facebook staff.

There are many things I do love about getting the word out about my work, building my platform, and helping many other authors build theirs. It's important and I get that. And I do like being able to reach out when prayer is needed for my family, as well as other families. I think that's a marvelous thing to be able to do.

But right now, at this minute, I don't appreciate the FACEBOOK monster. I'm extremely frustrated with it all. I'm sorry somebody thought they had to complain. I'm staying away from Facebook for a few days. I've got better things to do than be insulted.

Like writing.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What's So Amazing About Grace Anyway?

Every day I wake up I'm thankful for grace. For His renewed mercies. For this amazing thing we call, grace.

And it seems, for political and other reasons, so many of us smug humans forget that grace binds us all. It's grace that keeps us from flying off the face of the earth! It's by His grace that gravity holds our feet so firmly on this planet that He hung upon nothing!

It seems so many of us attach limits to grace. That we can only possess a measure of grace if we obey this law and that political group. Walk this line! Live this way! Believe like me! Grace can only be yours if you sit your butt in church every Sunday without fail and worship like I do!

Hmmm. I wonder.

What was Jesus really like when He walked and talked among us? I think about his first recorded miracle, at a wedding no less. I have to believe He danced and drank His wine and laughed with guests. It annoys me that Christians have turned Him into a somber, priest-like eunuch, never smiling or feeling the temptations of men. More than that, they put Him way out in space in a makeshift Heaven where nobody can reach Him except the chosen ones. They create God in their own image. Weak, petty, and self-righteous. It makes not a lick of sense to me.

He felt what we feel. He knows us down to the the very last cell in our bodies. He created us. Nobody knows us like that. How can we be so intolerant? How can we think the way we worship, the way we live is the only way, the best way?

Grace is divinely inspired tolerance. It wraps around us and holds us to Him.

Love is the result of grace, and it seems to me this world would be a much better place if we practiced a little more of both.

I don't have all the answers, but my heart is heavy this morning. I'm so thankful for grace. To me it's a little more than amazing. It's astounding.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, May 07, 2012

John 3:16 Facebook Blog Hop

If you are part of the John 3:16 blog hop on Facebook, send me a message and you'll have a chance to win a free copy of Southern Fried Women. I'll send it to you myself, signed to you!

Enjoy the blog hop!

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Post Op Report

Sitting in the hospital room, I looked out the window from the fifth floor. Across the street from the hospital, a white steeple with a cross on the top jutted high into the air. I felt like it was placed there specifically for me. A gentle reminder of who was in charge.

It helped.

We checked in on Monday, and waited. Waited for a room, blood tests, and one nurse after another to to do this and that, all while asking questions, giving advice, and relaying step-by-step what was about to happen. A mastectomy is not something any woman wants to endure. But what about a man?

My six-foot-two husband suddenly looked so vulnerable. Hanging on to the right side of his chest those last few hours, Michael was a trooper. For me mostly, I'm sure.

They brought in a small bed for me to sleep on beside him, because I was not about to leave him. But sleeping is not something you do much in any hospital. All night long, nurses and doctors crept into the room bringing with them the bright lights of the hallway. Slinking around, trying to remain invisible, they took vitals, checked the IV, and did whatever it is medical people do in the middle of the night.

By Tuesday morning, groggy and aching from trying to rest on beds we were not used to, we tried to prepare ourselves for what was about to happen. Finally, at 7:15 a.m, Michael handed me his glasses, his wallet, and his wedding ring.

Nobody can prepare for having a breast removed. Not really.

They wheeled Michael to nuclear medicine after I kissed him for the umpteenth time. That was the last I saw him until they brought him back to the room at about 2 in the afternoon.

We had a fabulous surgeon, a wonderful nursing staff, and thank God for it. Pale and nauseous, Michael dozed in and out until finally, around nine that evening, he began to feel human. It made me feel much better to slip his wedding ring back on his finger.

He's home now. A drainage tube hangs from his side, and there's a big dip in his chest where a scar runs across it, but it really doesn't look so bad. He's alive. And will be for a long, long time thanks to early detection. We don't have the results back from all of the tests, but the doctor was extremely positive.

He's a survivor now. A member of the pink ribbon club. We're thankful for our family and the hundreds of friends who prayed for us during this time. We're thankful God was with us in that room, for the gentle reminder he placed just outside our window. A tall, white steeple that pointed to the Heavens ...

Blessings to you and yours.