Not more adult than God

 

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Why do we fall into destructive behavior?  Why do we fall into traps and go for people that harm us?  Are we weak?  These questions are asked by those on the outside who perhaps have never known a day of sorrow, a day of loneliness, a day of yearning…a day of longing…and yet there are grains of truth in those questions that can’t quite be denied, they nag at me.  They are offensive, sure, but truth often scratches at us, doesn’t it?  We bristle uncomfortably at it, we draw back in fear from it.

In our darkest times, we are weaker, that’s the truth.  There is a danger to this as well, because a predator, a person with ill intent grasps at this and holds on and latches on and uses every weakness, every loneliness, every insecurity, every piece that hurts to draw us to them as your anchor…because when we are weak, trying to stay afloat in a storm we seek an anchor.

As a Christian we know the truth.  The Holy Spirit tells us that truth.  He tells us WHO that anchor is.  He tells us WHO that ROCK is.  He tells us who will never fail us.  He tells us who can carry that heavy burden, He tells us who can heal the broken heart…but we push Him away.  We push the true Lover of our hearts and souls away, because in all honesty we say HE IS NOT ENOUGH.  Lets be real.

But why is He not enough?

Jeremiah 17:5-10 says:

Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.  Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD.  For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.  The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?  I the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.

A loaded verse.

In my experience, time and time again I have put my trust in people and time and time again I have come away broken.  Some people have intentionally, maliciously hurt me.  Some people have hurt me unintentionally, and yet have hurt me all the same.  Friends, family, a spouse…people.  People who were supposed to be there in times of need and loneliness and yet when needed were not there to carry heavy, heavy burdens…because THEY COULDN’T.  I expected them to care for my hurt like the LORD cares, to wipe my tears like the LORD does, but you see, they can’t see the deepest parts of me, nor can they fully care even though their words may convey such care.  ONLY ONE CAN TRULY DO THAT.  And yet again I let my HEART get ahead of me…this deceitful thing beating inside and I let this heart feel and I let the feelings dictate that trust should be placed on another person who is just as flawed as I am, who perhaps is just as hurting as I am.

Do you see?

Have you done this?

Well, let me tell you a predator preys on this.  And if you don’t have Jesus as your armor, you will fall.

In previous blogs I’ve talked about how to protect yourself from online predators, I’ve talked about human trafficking, about domestic abuse…and all of this in some way perhaps can be brought back to who you trust.  No, not all things can be avoided.  You can’t help if someone kidnaps you.  But being LURED away as an adult can be helped.  You CAN protect your heart if your heart is in the hands of Jesus.

He is not an imaginary friend.  He is not a fictional character.  He is the God who became man.  He is the one who came from Heaven and died on the Cross for all your sins, all your flaws, for that deceiving heart that constantly is selfish, that constantly fails, that constantly mocks you, that constantly tells you that you are not good enough.  He is the Son of God who is here to tell you that you are his Bride and you are made SPOTLESS in Him and He has chosen you, and He DOES love you, AND THAT MATTERS!  In the end, if you do meet a man worthy of you, He must honor Him and in honoring Him HE WILL HONOR YOU, he will not defile you.  He will cherish you, he will point you to the Cross when you are weak because he will realize that a man is not strong enough to carry a burden by himself, he will take you back to your Groom.

Ephesians 6:10-12

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

 

The verse goes on to list (read on your own), the armor you are to put on: truth, righteousness, Gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).  This is the armor you must have in your daily life, whether it is in dating, work, church, family, etc.  You must have it on EVERY DAY, because you don’t go to war without armor and satan constantly attacks you, if you are unarmored, you will fall and then you will ask God why…well, you were not prepared.

We often think because we are adults we can make decisions and we know better than God…but lets not forget…we are not more adult than God, and He knows better what can protect us.  If He whispers, or shouts to your soul: NO!  Or stay away, this person is bad…LISTEN!  Stay under His protective wings and seek His heart above all else, He is your/my beloved and He loves us well.

 

Stay Smart…Because you are Priceless

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It is almost indisputable that in this day and age love has become a word we have become desensitized to.  We don’t understand it’s meaning anymore.  We don’t understand that above all love is the very definition of commitment.

Not many are willing to commit, it is too much of a sacrifice.  The ‘what if’s’ win out (what if my feelings change, what if I’m no longer attracted to him/her).  What we don’t realize is that feelings are deceitful and they can wreck our lives worse than a tornado if we base love solely based on feelings.  We often use the term: falling in love.  No I disagree with this.  Falling implies chaos, an accident, pain, horrible consequences.  Love needs to be more intentional than this if we don’t want to be left with horrible scars that take years to heal (believe me, I know a bit about this).  Love is the thing that remains when the feelings go away, where you would still battle through hard days with that person even when you are hard pressed to like that person because you simply know that despite everything, despite the flaws, you would die for that person.  It is a friendship that develops and blooms, it is a seed that is planted and watered and cared for and then can be enjoyed with it’s beautiful aroma.  Love is not simply going to a flower boutique and picking a rose that you have not tended and nurtured (yes this coming from a person who has no green thumb).  There is no satisfaction in that.  But to know that the flower will continue to bloom in the garden where it belongs with your love and care, there is a satisfaction to that, because you have poured out your time into that.  It is the same with friendship that develops into a forever love.

Love honors above all else, it knows how to sacrifice, it knows how to respect that which is beautiful and pure.  It does not tear down and storm through and then leave everything wilted and dead.

Many of us have known the kind of ‘love’ that is not love.  The kind that defiles the very sacredness of love and we are tempted to never love again…but that is only because we have never encountered the Christ love that can exist in a man or a woman who know Christ.  You see, Jesus said this to men:

Ephesians 5: 25-28 (NASB) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself;

If men were to HONOR women like in the verse above, a few things would happen:

  1.  He would give himself up for her, put her above himself (sacrifice)
  2.  He would sanctify her and cleanse her (by the washing of water with the word).  To me this means he would point her to HIM (Jesus), he would seek to purify her, he would not lead her into temptations that he shouldn’t, provoking her etc.
  3. He would love her as he loves himself…now lets admit it, we all can be a bit selfish and think of ourselves first, if men were to put their wives and think of them as they do themselves, they would have a happy spouse.

If the above is done, then it would be very easy for the wife to SUBMIT to such a man as it is preached over and over from the pulpits.  That is the kind of man that is worthy to be the head of a family, because he KNOWS what family is.

NOW, keeping all of the above in mind, many young and older people these days find it hard to find the kind of love described above, because as I said, not many people value that kind of love anymore, or if they do are tired of waiting for their Boaz or Ruth and so we seek other avenues.

This is where online dating comes into the picture for many ladies…and men.  So, if you must go on this hunt, in this manner, I would say please be safe.  There are a few steps you can take in staying safe:

The Online Dating Game: Tips That Can Help You Stay Safe and Protect Your Identity

The above article mentions not giving your address, phone number or real email until trust is established, this should be a give in.  I would also add if you have children, no meeting of them until a deep level of trust is established.

Don’t get lured into going far distances and don’t be naive enough to believe sob stories…because most likely that is what they are.  Predators prey on sympathy and if you are a caring person they will pick up on that.  Check facts…run background checks if you must (some go as far as hiring an investigator to run background checks though keep in mind just because someone comes back with a clear record doesn’t make them a good person…just hasn’t gotten caught).

Move slow, don’t get sucked into moving into a fast relationship, don’t let your emotions rule you, take a step back and let your logic take over for a bit.

Listen and watch for clues in behavior once you do meet that person.  Does this person constantly want you AWAY from friends and family?  This should serve as a red flag.  A person with good intentions would normally be eager to get to know both your friends and family just as you would his.  It goes both ways.

When you go on your dates, tell a friend or family member when and where you will be (especially in the beginning stages) and as the article above mentions, YOU drive your own car, though it might be romantic to be picked up by a gentleman, keep in mind this is NOT someone you have known for years and in this case it is not safe or appropriate.  Oh yes, and don’t go to a secluded place for heaven’s sake…make it a good populated, public place, in broad daylight.

As for in case things do go bad…I would say it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have pepper spray or at least know how to defend yourself.

Remember, you are worth being safe.  You are worth not compromising.  You are worth loving.  Don’t become a victim, stay smart and don’t let your heart be torn out by a person who preys on those with good hearts who just want to truly love.  Above all else, love is forever.  It is not fleeting.  It is not a fling.  It is not just a physical relationship…and for the physical to exist, I truly believe that man/woman needs to be ready to commit to marriage.  Don’t compromise, you are priceless in the eyes of Jesus, you were bought with a price!  Demand that whoever you meet treats you with the honor that Christ demands.

 

You must NEVER do this as a writer

I think it was in ninth grade that I remember a teacher saying the following line in regards to Algebra:  “To this rule there is NEVER an exception.  You must always follow this rule.”  But lo and behold five minutes would pass and all of a sudden there was an exception.  While Algebra is a bit more rule oriented than writing I hear this said over and over when in reference to writing stories.

I read books on writing which most of the time are extremely helpful.  In these books you find such advice such as: Show don’t tell.  Stay away from such and such word, avoid cliches, etc., and yet I read books by New York Times Best Sellers where I see many of these ‘rules’ clearly broken.  My conclusion is that, yes the advice should be taken under consideration but with discretion.  

For example, if I was to submit a story like those of Dean Koontz I would probably get rejected.  Why?  A few reasons.  One of them is that as a new author I don’t have the freedom to do whatever I want with my writing.  More than half of his writing is description and not actual dialogue and that is something that most publishing houses won’t look at.  What I mean is, if they see more paragraphs and less dialogue or visa versa the manuscript gets tossed without even being read.  But that is a shame.  Why?  Well, while I can understand that more of one than the other CAN take away from the story, it is NOT always the case.  In Dean Koontz’s books it doesn’t take away from the stories (as I’ve mentioned before), it actually adds to it.

There are however things you should keep an eye out for, like using certain words too many times (we all do it, we all have a word we are fond of that we over-use without even realizing it).  Or having too many characters that don’t add to the story…though even this if done well can still be done.  Or too much non-action scenes where characters are just sitting around having coffee discussing the end of the world.  Or characters being too perfect…or too evil.  There should be a balance in everything.  Make us care about your villain, make us understand why he/she is a villain…show glimpses of good (not just by showing it through dreams or back flashes).  Writing fiction is essentially about one thing: CREATIVITY.  Although not a single one of us is fully original (we take from what we know, from what we’ve read, seen, heard, etc), still try to put a spin on things that isn’t a replica of another author’s work.

When you write a certain line, ask yourself: is this me mimicking someone else, can I make this more original?

I would also recommend to keep reading books, blogs, articles on writing, but I would also say again: read them with discretion.  The rules (other than the grammar) are not concrete.  What works for one author might be a total fail for you.  Pay attention to those who critique your work, but ultimately, you know the message you want your story to convey.    

Learn to write stories worth reading

So…right up front I will tell you I have not written a New York Times Best Selling Book….yet.  I have however read MANY such books.  One day I hope to join the ranks of the great story tellers.  There are many friends on Facebook and in my day to day life that also share this passion for writing and have similar goals.  The question that is most pressing is as follows: how to we become THAT good.  How do we tell stories worth reading?

It is my strong opinion that one of the ways a writer can improve at the craft of writing is through a few simple steps…

1.) Read!  Read!!! For heaven’s sake…READ!!!

When I say this I don’t just mean read the books you are passionate about.  I also mean be very observant about what you are reading.  Take a notebook, write words that stand out, or write your observations about what the author does and DOESN’T do.

For example, one of my favorite authors is Dean Koontz.  In reading some of his books I have noticed something that was VERY explosive for me (might not be for you).  He hardly EVER uses the word and.  Me on the other hand….use it FAR TOO MUCH.  Also he has very little dialogue, yet his stories are very interesting and captivating.  In fact when there is dialogue I almost feel like saying to the characters: shut up, I want to see the rest of the story.

There are other observations that can only be found through reading stories and books by authors who have made it ‘big’, such as how they describe things without actually telling you what they are describing.  How they paint pictures that are so vivid with words that are perfectly placed…like the stroke of just the right color with a brush.

2.) Write.  Simply write.

Even if you have come to a stand still in your story…write SOMETHING.  Write in a journal.  Write a blog.  Write a letter.  In fact start a notebook designed just for descriptions.  Pick an object (in nature, in your home, at your place of work) and describe it in detail without ever saying what it is.  Describe it as you would to a blind person.  Describe a sound, describe a smell, describe a sensation. Remember you don’t actually have to show it to anyone.

3.) Write reviews for the books you read.

A good way to develop your writing is to write reviews (on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your blogg, etc).  Don’t just say the book was good, or it was bad.  Go deep into the why’s.  Use words that paint a picture.  (I am working on getting better in my reviews and you wouldn’t believe how much this helps me when I finally sit down to write my own stories).

4.) Re-read your stories OUT LOUD.

Act it out.  Have a pen or pencil handy.  When you read your work out loud, your brain seems to catch what actually sounds right and what sounds horrible.

5.) Pay attention to your dreams.

Many of my stories have been born from dreams.  I have a notebook by my bed for those moments when I wake up from a dream (or a nightmare) and I write them down.  You wouldn’t believe how many times my stories have come to a halt and I’ve gone back to ‘the notebook’ and found inspiration again.

6.) For each story you are working on have a journal assigned just for that story.

In this journal, jot down ideas as they come.  Write how you are feeling about your progress…or lack there of.  Write anything that has to do with the story.

7.)  Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t re-write too many times.

We all want the perfect story, but there comes a time when too much re-writing is just too much and it will make your story flat.  You may even become depressed about it…even bored.