Leaving my Blanket Behind

My mom is a strong Christian woman who embodies the fruits of the Spirit in ways I can only dream of. She’s amazing. So I know, when she became pregnant with me (probably even before) she was praying for me. And I know she prayed long and hard over my multiplying cells and lengthening limbs, even as I rolled and kicked and made her miserable from the inside.

As she prayed, threads were woven all around me. The more she prayed, the thicker the yarn that spooled from Heaven and wrapped me in protection. I arrived in this world cocooned in my mother’s faith.

Church, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Bible… these were the words of my life from the very beginning. So thick was this knitted blanket of faith that the atheist/agnosticism of my father could not penetrate it. I balanced the intellectual curiosity he instilled within me only on the outside of my faith cocoon.

And then, one day, I pulled a loose string.

One. Loose. String.

I don’t regret pulling that string. As the buffer between my world and myself lessened, I became more connected to the Divine in nature, in others, in everything. I gained a new sense of compassion and passion for those who did not have mothers who prayed them into this world, for those who are lacking so many things that always seemed a given to me.

Eventually, however, I ran out of loose string to pull. All I have left now are threads spooling away from me. They are pretty, their rainbow colors flying behind me like ribbons.

But my skin is now exposed. I have never felt this much of the world on my soul at one time.

I question everything.

Nothing is sacred anymore. All is up for discussion and confusion and wondering.

I am making this all sound very beautiful, and most days, it is very beautiful. I am learning a new way of walking in faith, walking in faith without using it as a wall to separate me from other people, people not bundled in the same blanket as me.

However, my old beliefs have turned on me. The things I used to say and sing and believe unquestioningly are like small daggers. They are like sandpaper on my newly exposed skin.

They hurt.

And I live in the South. I live in the Bible Belt. My husband is a pastor and I work in a church preschool. But every scripture verse is dagger-ended and every child’s Bible story is a landmine.

Too many people around me wrap themselves up tight in a blanket that is covered in thorns. The thorns are on the outside though. They can’t feel them, but when they walk near me, speaking Christianese, assuming things about me based on my husband’s career, using their faith blanket to justify the oppression of those they are supposed to love and sacrifice all for… The thorns stab my flesh and I come home bloody.

I cried on the closet floor, last week. I told my husband, “I am just so tired. Everything hurts. I feel like I am walking around with my skin peeled off.”

But it isn’t my skin I peeled away. It is the thickness of blind faith. And I need to learn to live this way, because I think Jesus lived this way.

He never truly turned people away. He drew them to him, prayed for and healed them, taught them and sought them… He did not bundle up in faith like a buffer between Him and the world.

I do believe we have a Comforter, but I don’t think it’s a blanket. I think it is the piece of God that lives in us, that guides and keeps us, that helps us funnel all the hurt into compassion.

It is the peace of God that lives in us.

But living with peace inside my soul is different from blocking everything from outside of my soul.

So, it seems, I am learning to live again.

I am learning and hurting and sometimes the result is not pretty. Sometimes I lash out, because I can’t take another pin prick, cannot hug another cacti-argument. Instead, I need to hideout in a blanket-fort with a book and my crayons, be a child again…

heal.

It hurts, but I do believe, deep down, the hurt is worth it.

You are worth it… being connected to all of you is worth leaving my blanket behind.

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion

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Yesterday, I alternated practice equations for my math final with chapters from Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves.

When I first started reading, I was slightly disappointed by the British setting, though I am not sure why. I normally adore all things British. But, the setting quickly shifted to Hungary, and that was gorgeous. I don’t know a lot about the history of that part of the world, so I got to learn and do my own research to check out new tidbits. That is my favorite part of historical fiction.

My favorite favorite was the poet in the story. I loved learning that he is a real person and actually did participate and even help spur on revolution with a poem. I firmly believe poets ARE revolutionaries. Words are power.

Another favorite about this story is the mix of real history and alternate history and the supernatural – the richness of magic meets the lushness of culture.

There are so many tendrils of web woven together in this story that I hesitate to share details. I loved the characters of Gabor and Matyas the best, and there is plenty of allegory to me constructed from the plot if one wants to compare societies and histories.

All in all, Blood Rose Rebellion is well worth the read. Check it out.

 

*I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FROM BLOGGING FOR BOOKS FOR THIS REVIEW.

 

Go Back to the Last Place You had It and Look There

I’ve been listening to an audio book from Anne Lamott, her newest. It plays while I drive my kids around and while I commute to work or school. I love her voice, like an old friend calling shotgun to talk about the good the bad and the ugly of everyday.

Yesterday, she was talking about finding lost things. She said something along the lines of, “When you lose something, you go back to the last place you had it and look there.”

This is obvious mom advice, right? If you can’t find your shoes, try to remember where you were last time you took them off. Where were you when you last had your keys or your phone or your wallet…

or your faith.

That is what I asked myself, driving down 305 to drop my son off at youth choir. I kept asking myself as I drove back after he was safely deposited at the church.

Back in Tupelo? Did I just not bring my faith to Olive Branch when we moved? No, that didn’t seem right. I was struggling with deconstruction in Tupelo, though maybe in more subtle ways. In Brandon then, that far back? That was ten years ago.

I know I have felt God’s presence, felt at peace, in the last ten years.

So… when? Where?

I moved on to running media for worship at The Well, correcting sermon slides and greeting visitors and sipping a Coke for the caffeine infusion needed to stay alert. All the while, the back of my brain was spinning, searching… where did I last see my faith, my peace, my certainty that God, whatever God is, was with me?

Then the band started playing and the words that filled the room were, “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here.”

I closed my eyes. I went back to where that song took root in me, to Jamie singing those words, no guitar or piano or drums needed. Just her voice rising in an empty church, an old church, a church that has looked over the valley for 600 years.

That is where I saw it last.

That is where I last felt at peace.

In Honduras.

My eyes filled with tears, because I can’t go back anytime soon, and when I do go back it won’t be for as long as last summer. This time last year, I was plotting how to pack for my summer in under 50 pounds. Whole weeks stretched before me, weeks without any of the worry that plagues me here in the States.

Last summer, I did not worry about money or my health or health insurance bills. I did not worry about grades and scholarships and computers.

Last summer, I sat in an ancient church and listened to Jamie’s voice seeping into clay walls that had held the prayers of centuries. I stood on mountain tops, literally and spiritually. I laughed with children in broken languages. I sipped coffee while the birds of paradise were in bloom.

And all was well, and all was well, and all manner of things would be well.

How do I find Honduras in my heart without getting on an airplane?

That is the question I begin my summer with this year. How do I find Honduras in this life even while going to 8 AM classes and learning algebra and working at a daycare and trying to rewrite a manuscript in verse?

How do I find Honduras in my heart?

We Call it Disease

When your body turns on itself, we call it disease. We call it cancer. We call it bad.

We look for cures and treatments.

We try to fix it.

I have been reading a lot of Richard Rohr and also taking a couple of biology courses. This has combined inside my brain, the contemplation and the atoms swishing around like water in a jetted bathtub.

Rohr says that, if there is truly a God that made all in its image, then we should be able to see that image in everything, from the smallest particles to the largest. Since I believe in a trinitarian God, a God that is relationship, not a God that is independent and individual, then what I would expect to see in creation is the same.

Particles that connect to form bigger things… atoms… molecules… This makes sense. Keep getting bigger and you will see organs made of tissues and body systems made of organs. You will see ecosystems that require plants and animals, insects, and sunshine and water and air. Everything in our world needs other things to live. Everything cycles, life to death to life to death.

Get bigger.

Look outside of earth and you will find other planets, stars, moons, orbiting and gravitating and being a part of a bigger whole. Solar systems, black holes, comets… space.

Everything is connected.

People are cells in the body of the world.

You don’t even have to believe in God, the Christian version or any other version, to see the connectedness in our universe, in ourselves.

We are cells.

And when cells malfunction… when they turn on one another…

We call it disease. We call it cancer. We call it bad.

We look for cures and treatments.

We try to fix it.

Sometimes we try to fix it with poison, radiation, more pain and more sickness.

We go to war.

Sometimes it seems to work, though it leaves the body ravaged in other ways.

What scientists want to do is find a true cure, to find an answer. What triggers a cell to go rogue and how do we un-trigger it? Better, how do we keep it from being triggered in the first place?

How do we avoid war by never turning on one another to begin with?

How do we love our neighbor as ourselves?

We are all cells in this body, and we have got to stop killing one another.

The Island Deception: A Magic Read

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THE ISLAND DECEPTION
(Gateways to Alissia #2)
by Dan Koboldt

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. But what happens after you step through a portal to another world, well…

For stage magician Quinn Bradley, he thought his time in Alissia was over. He’d done his job for the mysterious company CASE Global Enterprises, and now his name is finally on the marquee of one of the biggest Vegas casinos. And yet, for all the accolades, he definitely feels something is missing. He can create the most amazing illusions on Earth, but he’s also tasted true power. Real magic.

He misses it.

Luckily–or not–CASE Global is not done with him, and they want him to go back. The first time, he was tasked with finding a missing researcher. Now, though, he has another task: Help take Richard Holt down.

It’s impossible to be in Vegas and not be a gambler. And while Quinn might not like his odds–a wyvern nearly ate him the last time he was in Alissia–if he plays his cards right, he might be able to aid his friends.

He also might learn how to use real magic himself.

Continuing the exciting adventures from The Rogue Retrieval, The Island Deception blends fun and mystery into a brilliant new fantasy from Dan Koboldt.

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Dan Koboldt is a genetics researcher and fantasy/science fiction author. He has co-authored more than 70 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. Dan is also an avid deer hunter and outdoorsman. He lives with his wife and children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating the flowers in his backyard.

Author Website: http://dankoboldt.com
Twitter Profile: @DanKoboldt

 

Whatever your purchasing preference, you should go right now and buy both this book and the previous novel. 

Book Links for THE ISLAND DECEPTION
(Gateways to Alissia #2)
by Dan Koboldt

Author Website (preferred):
http://dankoboldt.com/writing/island-deception/

Publisher Website:
https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062659088/the-island-deception

Universal Buy Link (all e-book stores/formats):
http://books2read.com/u/mqz2a1

Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Island-Deception-Gateways-Alissia-ebook/dp/B01GZS384K

Kobo:
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-island-deception

iBooks/iTunes (Apple):
https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/the-island-deception/id1123541935?mt=11

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30531555-the-island-deception

Barnes & Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-island-deception-dan-koboldt/1123910498?ean=9780062659088

 

Review: Hollywood Homicide

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I don’t read a ton of mystery novels, but sometimes it is fun to play connect-the-dots… can I put the clues together before the author reveals the killer/thief/bad guy?

I recently picked Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett for a fun bit of escapism. I liked the main character, Dayna, pretty quickly. Her mix of sarcasm and nervousness spoke to me. I often cover my fear of inadequacy with jokes and smart remarks, so I felt a lot of empathy for her. I thought her past as a recognizable face but not a major celebrity (as in, movie star) was neat. It gave her some Hollywood currency but kept her from being unrelatable to those of us with no connection to the industry.

The mystery itself had plenty of twists and turns. Just as I would think I had it figured out, a new clue would fall into the story. The women in the book seemed to be in the same boat and I loved the mix of passion and ineptitude.

I don’t want to spoil anything about the story, so I am going to leave this short and sweet. If you are looking for a fun mystery, check out Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett.

Actualmente: Abril

Current Books: I just finished Gulliver’s Travels (part 4) for my Brit Lit class and will read A Modest Proposal tomorrow. I’m reading Hollywood Homicide for my fun read, Audacious for verse novel research, and The Divine Dance for my spiritual book with morning coffee.

Current Playlist: With the kids in the car? Welcome to Night Vale podcast…. otherwise, I am binging S-Town and crying a lot.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Way too many Sonic stops after class, since it is on my way home and I tend to be hungry then.

Current Colors: I don’t even know. I’m wearing blue right now.

Current Food: I just finished eating a small frozen pizza while doing homework.

Current Drink: I am drinking Mello Yello at work everyday. I need to stop.

Current Favorite-Favorite: Pell Grant. I am so thankful for my Pell Grant.

Current Wishlist: Someone to deep clean my house a couple of times per year, an extra day in the week just for rest, a bunch of books…

Current Needs: All the energy and motivation to get through the next few weeks of school, write this book, and juggle my crazy summer schedule…

Current Triumph: I made a 100 on another Biology test, making my average for that class a 100.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Needing to work while in school. I wish I could focus on school and writing.

Current Indulgence: I just spent over an hour sitting on the bed listening to S-Town.

Current Mood: Is tired a mood?

Current Outfit: Plaid PJ pants, Le Petit Prince sweatshirt, white socks

Current #1 Blessing: Financial Aid for school

Current Quote:  “The energy in the universe is not in the planets, or in the protons or neutrons, but in the relationship between them.”  ― Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation

Current Photo:

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