Saturday, April 22, 2017

Meanderings With a Point

Are you there?

....

Hello?

....

{sigh}

You know, it is pretty silly to ask someone in the room with you if they're there.

Ah. Right. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Not funny.

It's been one of those weeks. Thursday was good.

I saw that. You were very busy. 

We should probably talk about the weather.

Nonsense. Boring topic. Weather is just weather. It happens.

Yes, but in my sphere, that has a whole other meaning. It really happens. Physically.

You know, I'm sorry about that. 

....

Yes, well, as I said, the weather is boring and also an uncomfortable subject. What did you actually want to talk about?

I don't know for sure. We haven't had a real chat for a while. I mean... I pray... but these post, well, they give me a lot of pleasure and often I get some real insight into things.

Me too!

Right. My fault. I've been very focused on trying to write. And you know, the weather....

You're published.

I am. It was very exciting. And I have some great co-writers that I'm very happy for as well. Now if folks will buy the books and give us some reviews so we can learn from it.

Are you sure you want to know what people think?

......... Yes. Because if I don't know what I'm doing wrong, I can't fix it. So, it if stinks, painful though it may be, I need to know or the next might stink, too. It may anyway.

So, you like it when someone points out your faults?

Uh, well, my writing can't improve without feedback.

That's true of many things. Yet most folks don't want to know about their ... faults, I believe you said. 

We're not supposed to criticize people. That's judging.

Really? You do know I'm a judge. 

Yes. YOU are. I'm not supposed to criticize. If I do it, that's judging.

Even though the criticism is designed to correct something bad? Do you people even know what criticism is? 

In English, it has two meaning. One is an expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. The other is an analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.

You looked up judging, didn't you? 

I did.

Surprised?

Yes.

And what is judging?

Well, here's Merriam-Webster: to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises;  to sit in judgment on :  judge a case;  to determine or pronounce after inquiry and deliberation  ;  govern, rule —used of a Hebrew tribal leader ;  to form an estimate or evaluation of ; trying to judge the amount of time required; especially :  to form a negative opinion about: shouldn't judge him because of his accent ;  to hold as an opinion

Surprised?

Yes. They're not the same. At all. And in light of the definitions, judging is not precisely a bad thing. It is based on evidence and testing, inquiry and deliberation, evaluation. But it can be negative. Again, negative is not necessarily a bad thing

So, if I say your story stinks.

That'd be hurtful. But if true, it isn't wrong.

True isn't always good. So, if I said it lacked structure or organization... or that you used too many passive verbs?

That's less painful and more helpful.

So, it isn't the judgment but rather the delivery. 

Yes..... But you try telling someone that their lifestyle is a sin. You can get a black eye that way. And that delivery is what hurts. Aren't we supposed to tell them they're sinning?

So we're issuing black eyes of our own? What happens when someone reads a story? They learn about the character, what they like, how they act, how the resolve the conflict in the story. In a good story, they may even talk about the character and ask questions. They'll learn a lot from that story. Readers also learn a lot about the writing and they may point out errors to the writer. It is up to the writer how they take those criticisms. 

So, it isn't all on the critic it is also on the one being critiqued?

It is. And it is a sign that there are deeper problems when one doesn't know how to take criticism and doesn't understand the purpose of it. A prize pig at the county fair can be judged but the behavior of a human being can't? There's something wrong with human beings when we place more value on the size of a pig or the posture of a dog but the behavior of human beings must not be called into question. 

But you said it is in the delivery?

That's true. Pay attention to how judges at county fairs judge animals. They're not trumpeting it to the world so much as making an assessment based on specific criteria. I have given you a set of criteria that allows you to make valid assessments. 

I can hear people now saying, "Humans are not animals."

Aren't they? They've determined that humans are descended from apes. Therefore by their own judgment, humans are little more than animals and can be judged as you would an animal. Appearance, behavior, and parentage. All open to interpretation and judgment. 

But you know that's not true!

Yes, I know it.....

Oh.

.....

I have no idea how we ended up here.

Well, I was just sitting here quietly watching. You started it.




Friday, April 21, 2017

A Rotten Assignment

Today my skin hurts. My hips hurt. My feet hurt. I am tired and would like to curl up in a warm bed with my hands under the covers. That means sacrificing my sleep tonight. I got plenty of sleep last night but I suspect the raging inflammation in my body is creating fatigue as it tries in vain to fight off the inflammation. By bedtime, I'll be exhausted and depressed because I've lost another day I could have been productive and wasn't. 

I want to write, to work on my book but I can't think. I've tried to read but I can't focus for more than a few minutes. I suspect this is a bit like an attention deficit feels but can't be sure. I feel fidgety and restless but I'm too tired to do anything to combat it. 

Yesterday was a great day. I cleaned house and put away some of the laundry. I washed a load, too. Beds got made and floors swept. I cut the back yard and found time to play with the grandkids. Today is a black hole swallowing my life.

This is a pretty negative post for a praise blog, isn't it? And yet, I'm OK with that. My intention has always been, from the inception to make this a place that I praised God. How better to do that than when I'm miserable? Jeremiah was able to do it in a dark dungeon, in a pit of mud up to his armpits. They couldn't even go down and get him. They had to send a rope down and drag him out. For all my pain, I think he was in a worse place than me. You can bet he wasn't happy with his situation, but he didn't forget God. 

Despite how I feel, God is still real. He's still faithful. He still loves me. No matter how dark the dungeon, how deep the mire, God is a deliverer. My pain doesn't mean He isn't God. And it doesn't mean he isn't worthy of praise. I'm fairly confident that once the clouds clear and the rain passes my pain will ease. I'll find myself sitting on the patio staring up into a bright blue sky, the red umbrella sheltering me from the sun and I'll be thinking of how very great God is all the time. More clouds may roll in but God will still be God. He'll still be faithful. 

Life is all about change. Our situation can change in an instant, from good to bad and back again. Our response may vary but one aspect should remain fixed. God is amazing and worthy to be praised. That doesn't mean we can't moan in pain and cry. We hurt and the body is designed to deal with pain in predictable ways but although our pain is beyond our control, our minds are not. 

Yes, I rail against circumstances. To no avail. I rant and rave and get angry at my life going off the rails. I didn't sign up for this, did I? This was not in my plans! No, we were drafted. For whatever reason, this is the assignment we were given and we have to make the best of it. Sometimes it is the worst duty assignment.  But...

God is still faithful. He never fails. Get this, the Creator of the Universe is in charge of your life, your circumstances, your future. Who better to be in charge? 




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rain

For a few days now I've been overwhelmed with a sense of just how amazing and wonderful the Lord. It is beyond my abilities to tell you of his greatness and the feeling of something so grand, so infinite, so beautiful as this Savior who always seems to be just beyond my sight and yet so clear to my soul.

For days I've been miserable with growing pain. The weather has been horrible and we've had heavy clouds for days with scattered showers. The worst weather for me. My hips hurt when I try to walk and my lower back feels as if it has been replaced with a steel plate and rebels with sharps pain when I ask it to bend. My shoulder sends spikes of pain into my neck. My hands feel like sausages as they run thru the machine that grinds and then shapes them into links.

But God is ... he is just right there. My craving to talk to him, see him, burrow into his shoulder is tangible and the elusiveness of it is more painful than all my physical pain because I know that there lies the rest and relief my body screams for but can't seem to find.

And still, my heart says with complete confidence, "He is my shield. He is my strength. He is my portion. He is my shelter. He is my strong tower. He is my Deliverer. I trust in Him."

The storm has started here, with dark clouds and blowing rain. I'm not too worried. I have my shelter.